What is white space and why is it important?

White space, also called negative space, is the area on a page (or website, picture, app, or whatever else you might be designing) that doesn’t contain any information. Information can be words, images or design elements.

White space doesn’t always have to be white. Often a page has a colored background. In this case the area of the page without information is still white space, even though it is not white. That’s why the term” negative space” is a little more accurate but “white space” is the term more commonly used.

White space can help communicate your message more effectively. Especially today, when everyone is bombarded with marketing everywhere, your content is easily lost in the visual clutter. In order to stand out and allow your message to reach your audience, you have to make the information as concise as possible and then allow white space to break the clutter. When you leverage white space, the viewer of your piece can focus on the information you want them to receive. If there is none, your viewer gets distracted and your message gets lost.

A company that understands this design principle is Apple. In the ad to the left the white space is “green space”. Because of the generous negative space around the black silhouette, the eye can focus on the ipod and the dancing person. No clutter distracts from that message. Simplifying your content to the bare minimum is difficult, but can be more powerful than printing 1000 words, when you leverage negative space.

Our example below displays the same information in 2 ways. On the left you have many design elements that distract from the content. On the right you see lots of white space and slightly reduced text, which allows you to read the content easily. Many other design principles apply here, but white space plays a major role.