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When it comes to making the most of your business’ online presence, it can be tempting to stuff your website with as much as possible. Between providing users with helpful information, squeezing in a sidebar contact form, and adding in some eye-catching design elements, any blank space may seem underutilized.
But what if we told you that blank space on your website is actually helping you? It’s called white space, and it helps you more than it gets credit for.
What Is White Space?
No, white space isn’t a fancy, technical SEO term you’ve never heard of. It’s exactly what it claims to be, space. It’s any unused area on a page that helps separate paragraphs of texts, graphics, and other elements. This seemingly “useless” space may be doing more for your website than you think.
There are two different kind of white space: one you can make a conscious effort to include and one that occurs naturally.
Passive white space is areas where white space logically appears, such as the area between words on a line or the space surrounding a graphic. Active space, on the other hand, is something you have to purposefully include. This is the added space in your site’s design that adds emphasis and structure.
Why Is White Space Important in Design?
As a business owner, you may wonder what use white space has on your site. Though it’s tempting to fill every inch of each page with something, don’t. White space plays an important role and serves a purpose for both design and user-experience.
1. Accommodates for a Variety of Screen Sizes
When a user opens their browser at full screen, they will see white space to the left and right of the main content on a website. This is because content and imagery are defined within a set width that runs vertical up and down the site. These boundaries were set to create maximum flexibility for content to be viewable on the maximum number of devices.
As seen on a 24” monitor.
As seen on a 15” laptop screen.
As seen on an iPhone 6 screen.
As seen above, larger devices will see more white space, while small phone screens will see much less. This doesn’t make as much of a difference as it used to, though. According to Business Insider, more people now search Google on their phone than from their computers. This means there are much fewer people who will see this white space than those who won’t.
2. Improves Readability
For those who are viewing your website on a larger screen, white space will significantly improve the text’s readability. It’s difficult to read text that spans the entire screen. Users read and digest content faster if it’s more vertically designed.
The white space between paragraphs and around blocks of text and images also helps people understand what they’re reading and overall gives them a better user experience. The goal is to make people want to keep reading by laying out your text in a design format that’s easy on the eyes.
3. Drives Attention to the Right Elements
White space makes it very obvious what elements on your page are the most important. Not only will this drive the user’s eye right to your content, it can also speed up conversions.
A great example of this is Google’s home screen. A user visits this site with this intention of making a search. They won’t get distracted in the process or confused where to go on the page because the white space directs the eye right to the search bar.
4. Creates Balance and a Cleaner Image
Google has found that when a user first visits your website, it only takes them 50 milliseconds to form an opinion. Having white space on your site creates a cleaner image and will, as mentioned earlier, draw their users to the important, exciting elements on the page.
Too little whitespace can easily make your site look cluttered, cheap, and unreliable. While sites with white space convey feelings of ingenuity and freshness.
Is White Space Always White?
Though white is the common choice of color for white space, it’s not limited to just that. White space can be a solid color or a blurred background. The only criterion is that is must be one thing: space.
White space can’t contain any content or design element that may distract the user from the important elements on a page. On most sites, it works well to use the same design and white space pattern consistently from page to page to further improve readability for the user.
With Website Layouts, Sometimes Less Is More
Instead of stressing about stuffing as much information as possible onto a page, sit back, relax, and believe in the power and benefit of white space. As the cheesy old saying goes, sometimes less is more, and when it comes to content readability, white space is your best friend.
About The Author: Danielle is a Content Marketing Specialist in Blue Corona's Charlotte office. When not running campaigns for her clients, you can find her talking about music to whoever will listen, searching the city for a new sushi restaurant, or watching The Office.
View more blogs by Danielle Duggan