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Increasing Meaningful Interactions with White Space
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Increasing Meaningful Interactions with White Space

Sky Tonnessen, Senior Interactive Designer

Would you rather hear a bedtime story read by a master storyteller or a master auctioneer? Pauses, variance in speed and dynamic inflection can help captivate an audience during a story.

In the same way, the proper use of white space carries visitors along the flow of your web page. It makes the visitor want to keep reading, want to keep scrolling and guides them to the most important part of the message. Good use of white space can make websites more effective and increase conversions.

White space improves legibility and comprehension

According to research, white space can increase comprehension almost 20%.

Web users view web pages quickly—skimming content more often than reading. If your message is hard to skim, a visitor will be more likely to skip it entirely or will skim it without completely comprehending your message. Breaking text into smaller chunks with adequate white space makes the content more digestible and therefore more memorable.

In the example below, the second column increases line spacing (the space between the lines of text), making the paragraphs easier to read and understand.  In the third column, adding space around the paragraph margins provides a breath between each thought, making them more memorable.

Example of spacing

If a visitor can quickly understand your message, that visitor is more likely to convert to your cause, buy your product or pick up a phone to call for your services.

White space creates emphasis and focus

White space prevents distraction, guiding the visitor's eye to rest on what is most important on your page. If a visitor cannot quickly discern the message of a page, the visitor might abandon the page entirely.

One of the most referenced examples of white space's power is the Google homepage. Your focus is brought immediately to the center of the page with the colorful logo and then right to the search. (Let’s face it, that’s why you are there.) 

Google Homepage

Mailchimp's landing page uses white space to emphasize the headline and draw the eye to the sign-up buttons. 

MailChimp landing page

White space creates page organization

White space creates a visual hierarchy on a page. If your content has room to breathe, your user will be able to follow the flow of the page. A lack of white space gives every element on a page the same weight, making it unreadable and un-scannable. The user’s eye bounces around the page without knowing what to look at or what element is the most important.

While Arngren.net is an extreme example, it illustrates very well how a lack of white space makes a page very difficult to read.

Arngren Website

In contrast, white space on a site like REI maximizes focus on the products, allowing the user to scan the products on the page quickly and easily.

REI Products provide easy search

Remember, white space isn't always white

Although it's called "white" space—it’s really just negative space. The color is unimportant.

Apple home page

Your website serves as one of the most important—if not the only—connection with your audience. Skillfully crafted white space on your website helps visitors quickly glean value and meaning from your website and, by extension, your brand. 

Contact us if you're ready to make a better connection with your audience.

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