Whitespace for the Wise

Graphic Design | January 31, 2019

Ask any designer about whitespace and they will tell you that they couldn’t live—or work—without it. Whitespace, or negative space, is space that is intentionally left blank in a layout or design. It is intended to draw attention to itself due to the nature of being empty. It is purposely left without pictures, information, or graphics—though whitespace isn’t necessarily white. Sometimes, it can become a point of contention because that space may be looked at as being wasted or not being utilized to its fullest potential. However, when your ad or website is too cluttered, nothing will stand out and your message will be lost amid the chaos. Using whitespace wisely will allow your audience to receive your intended message without being overwhelmed—which may even lead them to seek out more information on your business or organization.


 3 Reasons for Whitespace

LEGIBILITY

In many cases, creating more whitespace is as simple as adding extra space between lines of text. The text is easier to read, and by default, it is more likely to be read. Extra space allows readers to rest their eyes in between content, consume the content more quickly, and absorb meaning without a lot of effort.

EFFECTIVE MESSAGING

With whitespace, you automatically need to use less words. This fact forces you to condense text, which can be a great exercise to make your language more concise and impactful. Making your text smaller just to create more whitespace is not effective if it becomes illegible. Instead, write with a purpose and only include what is absolutely necessary in your messaging—whether you’re creating a print ad, a brochure, a landing page, or an entire website.

FOCUSING YOUR READER

When a page is full of content, the audience doesn’t know where to look first, and it won’t take long for them to stop looking entirely. Whitespace will help capture your reader’s attention, and when coupled with intelligent design, you can guide your reader through an ad or website implicitly. Knowing where the reader will look allows you to place the most important content in strategic areas and make sure your readers are seeing exactly what you need them to.


Examples of Whitespace

You may remember Apple ads for the iconic iPod. They used silhouettes of various people rocking out against a bright background with just the iPod and the headphones in solid white. Those were great examples of negative space having a big visual impact. You noticed them because they were simple, yet powerful at the same time. There didn’t need to be a ton of information about the iPod, just enough room for you to notice the ad. Your mind filled in the blanks. It was unique because of its simplicity.


Photo via adsoftheworld.com

Similarly, old ads for the Volkswagen Beetle used whitespace to creatively remind readers that “small” didn’t necessarily mean “lesser.” Readers were drawn to the ad because of the lack of content, compared to the page next to it, which was likely full of large images and huge blocks of text—the style at the time. The strategic use of whitespace allowed the VW ad to stand out more than its competitors, and they’re often considered some of the greatest ads in history.


At Archer & Hound, our goal is always to marry the messaging with intuitive design, creating the most effective ads, websites, and collateral materials for our clients. Most of what we communicate on a regular basis can’t be summed up without any words at all, but the premise still holds true. Proper use of whitespace invites your eye to notice your message among all the competing cluttered messages that surround it.