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Understanding the Role of White Space in Web Design

Published on:

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Gone are the days where the most effective and visually stimulating websites were those packed with design flair and colour, filling every inch of the screen with information and imagery.

In fact, we want to start this blog post by posing a question.

If you really think about it, did those websites ever truly work for you?

Website design is something that has undergone a multitude of changes and shifts, following different trends and moving in various directions as consumer habits and behaviours change. One thing that has become increasingly prominent though is the use of white space in web design, leaving unmarked spaces around the outside of your content blocks and images.

The benefits of white space in web design are wide ranging and can make your website not only easier to digest but also more organised. It can draw attention to the most important elements of the page and makes sure that Call to Action buttons in particular stand out.

So, how do you balance white space with the intricacies of your website design and branding, and what should you and your designers consider in terms of best practice?

What is white space and how is it used in web design?

White space does not mean simply leaving entire areas of your website design blank and free from content or design flair. It does not mean that every image you upload, and headline or caption is surrounded by a white box, and it does not mean simply spacing everything out so that the overall page is longer and more arduous to scroll.

Website design white space

White space is the use of negative space which does not contain specific information or imagery relating to the website, but which can be backed in your branding colours so that it connects back to the experience. It helps to separate and segment the different aspects and elements of a webpage, making them easily digestible and more spaced out - placed deliberately rather than ad hoc.

Some of the ways that white space is used in web design include the integration of wider margins down the side of each page and under the navigation bar, around the outside of headings and taglines, and in spacing out different blocks of content and text.

The benefits of white space from a user perspective

Now that you know how white space is and can be used within your website design, what are the benefits of this design concept for users?

In short, white space makes a website easier to use. It makes the navigation of the site simpler, it makes the intent and message of each webpage clearer, and it allows each component of each webpage to stand out and really hold its own.

What’s more, white space when used effectively can reinforce your brand’s tone and message by ensuring that the key points on the page do not become lost in a mass of design flair. When the content, text, and imagery of a webpage are all set within areas of white space, the key points of information are allowed to stand out boldly, and the whole page can feel both more cohesive and more balanced.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, white space lends itself to the modern affinity for skim reading and gives consumers the information they need quickly and effectively. With so many competitor sites out there, modern users have more choices now than ever before - and if a website is complex to use or confusing to read, then they will simply click away and find something new.

White space grants businesses the space to really make sure that the information they present is informational, interesting, concise, and relevant.

Here’s how to make it work for you and your business.  

Achieving the perfect user friendly web experience with white space

One of our biggest tips in using white space is to recognise both the big and the small ways in which the concept can be integrated into your website design. Believe it or not, having a plain background behind the text on your website is also connected with white space as this enhances the legibility of your site and makes it more user friendly - making this just as important as the gaps between the content blocks.

Another website design tip is to make sure that every element of white space included in your website design is there for a reason and is having a positive effect on the overall design. Too much white space can leave the webpage looking empty and unfinished, while the right amount can create an aesthetic balance that is hard to replicate.

Last but not least, if you’re looking for the most effective place to start in building white space into your website design, then focus on the CTA buttons and actions that you want users to take. There is no better way to help a clear call to action stand out than to surround it with sufficient space that the eye is drawn towards it - meaning that white space is one of the best ways to ensure users navigate towards the next ideal action without becoming distracted.

For more insight like this, and to benefit from the direct expertise of the Social Loop design team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and find out more about our services.