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Importance of white-space in web design

Make your website an easily consumable place for your readers

Whitespace in web design, in a very simple language, is the empty space on the website. In a more technical web design and development language, those are your margins and padding, that separate each website content, such as titles and paragraphs, images and videos.

What is whitespace in web design?

Whitespace in web design, in a very simple language, is the empty space on the website. In a more technical web design and development language, those are your margins and padding, that separate each website content, such as titles and paragraphs, images and videos.

Why is whitespace important?

One of the most frustrating feelings is when there is too much content on a website and all of it is fighting for your attention without a clear and consistent separation.

Crowded and very busy websites are very difficult to read, making the users feel frustrated trying to find the right part of the page they’re interested in. It has been long understood that people are mostly scanning the content before they decide to read it. Whitespaces take a big part in making content scannable, which makes it more engaging.

Whitespace also gives you an impression of a higher quality designs. Websites that use whitespace seem to be more elegant and lighter. It has been a well-known practice within luxury brand websites to have larger whitespaces, making the designs look more elegant.

Whitespaces are also often used for balancing the layout, bringing the visual integrity of the design.

Bad use of whitespace

Good use of whitespace

Types of whitespace.

There are typically 2 different whitespace types that you will find in web design: macro and micro whitespaces.

Macro

It is a space between groups of elements. Mostly it is a space within a section that is around the section content.

Just to give you an idea of the macro whitespace, let’s bring it to a context of a web page. Let’s assume that your page has multiple different sections, such as the introduction section and a news section. Macro whitespace would be the space between the sections that would allow you to easily scan the content of the page, to see what section the information is related to.

Micro

Micro spaces are smaller whitespaces within the content. Those would normally be your paddings, margins and line-heights that define the micro spaces between titles, paragraphs, buttons, images, etc. within a group of elements.

Bringing it back to the context if that was your news section on the web page, micro whitespace is your space between the title, image and paragraph, and even more so, it is a space between each line of the paragraph text, allowing you to read with more ease and bringing you the lightness and elegance to the design.

Consistency

Whitespaces must be used consistently throughout the whole page. Especially when talking about micro whitespace. If you are having number a of pixels set from your title, the users will be expecting to see the next paragraph or a section title having the same space, having different size whitespaces will on the other hand bring confusion and frustration.

Conclusion.

As a conclusion, I would like to add that a very good approach to using whitespaces is to perceive them as an active element on the website. Whitespaces are there to help with scanning the content, readability, make websites seem more elegant and improve user’s experience. So next time you feel that the whitespace has got to be filled with some content, think of it as an active website element, instead of a blank background, and use it consistently.

About the Author:

Edgar Culka
I have over 2 years of experience working as a Front-End Web Developer. I design and develop bespoke websites that are carefully crafted specifically for business / client needs. I also have a great passion towards UX (User Experience) design, bringing the best practices into the website design.