How to Use White Space or Get Swallowed by a Black Hole

Man sitting above a black hole built in the ground. We only see his knees, feet and sneakers dangling above the abyss.

This is a contribution by Ronald Wolf, who is working a web designer in Perth, Australia. I clarified some points, added some images, links, text formatting and white space. No joke! Enjoy and learn:

Working as a web designer can sometimes be quite challenging. Your clients usually want as much information as possible crammed up on their page.

Nowadays the content provided on your website must be original, well written and thought of, and it must look appealing. How to reconcile both worlds?

With excessive content stuffed on a page you get swallowed by the attention black hole the modern Web often is.

The attention will be quickly diverted to something more readable and appealing. That’s where so called white space and negative space come to the rescue.

Using white space to give enough room for your content can really make an impact on both the way your site feels and on your traffic.

We’ve done a bit of research and we’ve made this short guide to help you understand how to use white space and negative space when developing a website.

 

What is white space?

  • White space represents the spacing between specific elements of your web page. To put it simply it’s empty space where your eyes can rest.
  • White space represents spacing between different elements but it also represents the space within individual elements.
  • White space doesn’t have to be white, it can be in any color, or it can be a background image, depending on the design elements of the site.
  • White space is used in various different ways and in various scales. It’s used to provide balance to the web design and improve the overall appeal of the page.

 

Birds sitting on power supply lines on a grey day. The sky looks almost white and it's empty.

Types of white space

There are different types of white space commonly used in web design in order to make pages appealing and comfortable to browse from. Let’s focus on those types of white space and their applications.

 

Micro white space

Micro white space has the biggest impact on the legibility of your content. It includes spacing between lines of text and paragraphs and between images and UI elements.

It helps your visitors read the content faster and it sits with them naturally. It also helps with the general overview of your website.

 

Macro white space

Macro white space represents the major space between key elements of the page, as well as the space surrounding the layout of your page.

It’s the space on both sides of the content and between blocks and different larger elements on the page. Macro white space is basically the general space for your website.

It’s somewhat of a “big picture” when it comes to summarizing it, and it provides the general feel of your web design. It helps your visitors focus on what they are looking for and instead of trying to escape the sea of text.

 

Active white space

White space can be differentiated in other categories as well. Other than micro and macro white space, there is also active and passive white space.

Active white space is used to help enhance the structure of the page itself. It’s used to help guide visitors through the content of your website.

 

Passive white space

Passive white space is space used for appeal and general aesthetics of the layout. It represents the space between paragraphs and its purpose is less functional than visual.

It’s not used to enhance reading, content order or the general flow, but to be appealing in the overall representation.

 

A dark room with three windows. You can look out at a town with a bright albeit grey sky. It's quite a contrast.

What to keep in mind when working with negative space

Attention and focus

Using white space to guide users through the content you provide is a great solution, and it always beats cramming your page with text.

When you plan and organize properly, white space should help you build focal points for your users.

By grabbing visitor attention in such a non-invasive way, it gets easier to generate leads.

Professional web designers can help you determine how to strategically plan your website design. There are lots of such professionals, so do your research and make sure you include it in your business plan.

 

Branding

Apple website with lots of white space, featuring only a hero image of the iPhone 8

White space can seriously affect your overall web design. If you don’t think it’s true just go to Google’s homepage and see for yourself. Their entire brand has been built around effective results and a lot of white space.

Usually, websites with lack of white space are regarded as news websites, while any serious brand focuses on minimalist design with lots of macro white space in between.

Implement your web design as part of your business plan in order to achieve the maximum potential of your website. Also keep in mind that you should test everything thoroughly before making any rock-solid decisions.

 

Legibility

In a virtually endless sea of fonts and web designs, people can sometimes get lost a bit. Having a custom-made font with serifs and decorative elements isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can become one if you start using it for everything on your website.

Micro white space helps your visitors read with ease, but you must choose the right fonts as well.

There are various things to keep in mind:

  • color
  • font size
  • tracking
  • leading
  • kerning

and all of these are very important for the overall user experience. Make sure your content can be read with ease; otherwise you may lose your visitors.

 

White cup of coffee on a white table. Th ecup is in the bottom right corner.

What does it all mean?

No matter what type of business you run, having a professional website is something that’s considered necessary in the modern world.

Having a website just for the sake of it is not enough though. It’s a bit pointless then.

You need to use a website to help enhance your business.

Smart design and use of white space can help you quite a lot when it comes to it; so hopefully, this guide helped you understand how to deal with your web design.

Make sure to remember – people like white space more than they do walls of text. Also black holes are scary.

 

About the author: Ronald Wolf is a web designer and internet marketer based in Australia. He works for a web design agency in Perth.