back

The Power of White Space in Web Design

Name a more powerful duo than white space and web design; we’ll wait… Still think of blank space as a waste of your page? We’re here to prove you wrong!

Web design
June 5, 2023
7
min
Graphic Design Subscription

One-stop for all your designs. Flat monthly price, unlimited requests and revisions.

If you’re tempted to fill your web page with buttons, stunning photography, and product descriptions, it may be time to take a step back. Realizing the power of white space, also known as negative space, will work wonders for your digital space.

 “Good design is as little design as possible.”  Dieter Rams

Even the design master himself said it; to create good design, less is more. The last (but not least) of Rams’ good design commandments also apply to web design.

We’ll dive into the concept of white space and have your questions answered. Precisely what is white space, and why is white space important? You’re about to find out!

What is white space?

Let’s kick things off with a simple white space definition.

White space, also referred to as negative space, in web design is the empty space surrounding a page's content and design elements. In short, the role of white space is to give a design room to breathe. It prevents people from seeing an overload of information all at once. 

Let’s compare two website designs. The first site is jam-packed with ads making it virtually impossible to find what you’re looking for. 

But how else can you add dozens of ads to a single web page? It’s easier than you think. Just consider how many products you can browse and search on Amazon, and how easy it is to search and filter through them. 

Although there are no bells and whistles, Amazon’s website is easy on the eyes. The reason is plenty of breathing room between ads and product descriptions that allows users to get vital information in a matter of seconds.

But you can’t understand the importance of white space from this example alone. So, let’s look at some of the key reasons why it matters.

The benefits of white space

Now that our crash course in white space is done, we can move on to the following question: “why is white space important?” One of the key web design rules is the proper usage of white space

White space plays a vital role in any design. Adding a healthy dose of blank space to your web design comes with a wealth of benefits:

LA22.77_Graphics-01.png

Improved legibility

Although most first impressions of your website are based on design, it’s your content that can ultimately turn visitors into customers.

We all know how hard it is to read lengthy texts with small line spacing. If your text is lacking the proper margins and gutters, even the biggest font sizes won’t make for a pleasurable reading experience. 

Micro space surrounding text, lines, and paragraphs will contribute tremendously to an effortless reading experience

Remember, people only spend around 50 seconds on a web page. So, they probably won’t read your text in-depth. Negative space between paragraphs allows people to scan the page and be on their way again or find the nearest call to action.

Draw attention to call-to-action (CTA)

People tend to focus on the odd one out. The Von Restorff Effect states individuals take note of and remember unusual or unique things much quicker than other items. 

Additionally, the gestalt principle “Law of Proximity” explains that elements in proximity to each other are often overlooked. Imagine creating a stunning landing page, only to have your call-to-action dismissed. 

Space in design encourages visitors to interact by drawing their eyes to what’s important. This eliminates any distractions and provides a straightforward user journey.

Improved user experience

A web page has different elements displayed that the user can interact with. In an interactive design like this, consciously leaving open space can help guide the user through.

White space on a website improves the user experience in multiple ways:

  • Drive attention - Part of planning your website is prioritizing certain elements. One way to do this is by playing with the amount of space surrounding the so-called focal points.
  • Visual hierarchy - White space in graphic design allows web designers to create a flow. Think of it as a path that the user’s eye will follow when scanning a web page.
  • Create connections - Content relationships are defined by how close they are placed together.

Without the usage of white space, your design is like a cluttered desk. It’s usable, but it’s inefficient. It leaves visitors frustrated and with a bad impression of your brand.

Aesthetically pleasing

Space on a web page doesn’t just make it more enjoyable to use. It also makes the page more pleasing to the eye.

Many high-end brands use a fair amount of blank space design, also known as minimalistic design. It creates a feeling of luxury and elegance. Pair white space in web design with crisp typography and striking photography, and your design oozes luxury. 

But even if you opt for a different style, website white space always creates a more appealing look. MiiR is an online store for stainless steel drinkware and kitchenware. Their old website certainly didn’t look dated. However, the addition of macro whitespace on the new version makes the combination of text and images seem much more coherent.

HTML burger

Different types of white space

There are different classifications for white spaces. Here are some different categories and classifications of white space.

Active vs. passive whitespace

Based on the usefulness of white space in graphic design, you can divide it into two types: active and passive.

LA22.77_Graphics-02.png

Passive white space is the space that occurs naturally. Examples are the spaces in between words or the space surrounding a logo.

Active white space is the space that is intentionally created, making a conscious effort to structure and declutter a design.

Micro vs. macro white space

White space is commonly categorized based on density, meaning it depends on the ratio and proportions of the space versus the elements.

LA22.77_Graphics-05.jpg

Micro whitespace is the small space surrounding graphical elements, such as text, icons, lines, and paragraphs. It has a direct effect on legibility. 

Macro white space, on the other hand, is the space surrounding bigger elements. Think about graphics and columns. These spaces are often referred to as margins and padding in web design. 

Examples of website white space design done right

We could rave on about the power of white space, or we can show you. Here are some stunning web pages to learn from!

Apple

As one of the early adopters of using white space in web design, we had to put Apple at the top of the list. Time and again, Apple and its web designers prove the power of minimalistic design. 

Apple_Homepage.jpg

Cereal Magazine

Cereal Magazine is renowned for its stripped-back minimalism in both its editorial layouts and web pages.

The page below is the product page of their New York Guidebook. The large area around the guide book the creates a feeling of elegance and exclusivity.

Cereal_Shop.jpg

Squarespace

White space on a website is your best friend if you sell a service that requires an explanation. Squarespace is brilliant at utilizing space to let its design breathe.

By adding large numbers, creating space between the headers and the text, and spacing the call-to-action a bit further down, they’ve created a comprehensible list of steps packed with information. 

Squarespace_Homepage.jpg

Foam Amsterdam

Remember how we said white space on a website doesn’t actually have to be white? Case in point: Foam Museum. Leaving surroundings as empty as possible will amplify the visual impact an artwork makes. 

On their homepage, they highlight exhibitions that are currently on. Instead of using white, they use a black background.

Foam_Homepage.jpg

Key takeaways

Space as an element of design is one the most important considerations in web design.

It may look like blank space to the untrained eye, but by now, you know that the opposite is true. When used correctly, website white space acts as the glue holding different elements together, and dramatically improves the user experience.

It may be the use of website white space, creating responsive websites, or user interface design in general. Web design is not a task for amateurs. Discover how you can get professional website design for an affordable monthly fee with ManyPixels. Or give us a call and chat with us about your web design needs!

Simone is a writer, dividing her time between native Netherlands and 'home away from home' Malawi. Whenever not stringing words together, she's either on her yoga mat or exploring any off the beaten track she can find.

How we can help

A design solution you will love

Fast & Reliable

Get your design back in 1-2 business days.

Fixed Monthly Rate

Unlimited requests & revisions, same price.

Flexible & Scalable

No contracts. Scale up or down as you go.

Pro Designers

Work with battle-tested professionals only.
Book a call

Our best 100 Web Designs

Get inspired with some of ManyPixels best website designs. Download our portfolio to check them out!

Wait... there’s more!

Enjoyed the read? Subscribe to our mailing list for all the latest tips, how-tos and news on graphic design and marketing.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.