The Power of White Space in Design

The Power of White Space in Design

There are many elements that tend to either be overlooked or underestimated when it comes to design. It is often the case because mastering the use of such elements requires a bit of skill. One of these “complicated-to-use-but-easy-to-look-at” tools is what we call white space. 

What exactly is white space? In order to thoroughly explain what white space is, we need to go back to the early age of design, where the only form of graphic communication was print.

White space used in print adverting – Source:

When printed advertising increased, a common issue that publishers had was limited space on a page. Publishers also wanted to share loads of important information all on a single page. This caused publications to cram a ton of information while making everything incredibly difficult to read. This hindered the ability to advertise effectively. Also, the demand for space in print was also costing publishers lots of money. 

Once this was addressed as a problem, it wasn’t long until innovation kicked in. Through research and field testing, we have learned that people can actually ingest more information when there is less of it. This proved to be more effective in terms of advertising. People do not like to stare hard, and dig to find the information they need. The phrase “Less is more” holds strong, and by using white space, you can very well communicate a message very well.

White space, which is often called negative space in the artistic and design world, is any empty spacing between any graphical elements such as shapes and bodies of text. It is called “white space” due to using the “less is more” philosophy in design, where the space in between elements was white from paper. By creating white space, a general advert can appear a lot more crisp and straight forward. 

Why Some People are Dismayed by White Space 

One of the biggest challenges a designer has, is to try to fit lots of information into a design, no matter how big or small their canvas is. The thought of leaving any part of the canvas blank can be irritating as they see it as a waste. Whenever you can’t put any graphics or information in a particular spot, that spot can be deemed invaluable.  Also, leaving lots of white space can at times make your design appear lopsided. Unless if that is the intent, there are several ways that you can create killer designs with white space. 

How to Use White Space

There are several things you must keep in mind in order to properly utilize white space. 

Use White Space for Direction 

When using white space in a design, it important to know that even though white space has lots of advantages, you must apply it where it makes sense. Remember that the eyes of the users will follow along where the content is. White space is good for being the side rail for content, so make sure that the white space you are looking to use, does not obstruct that flow. 

Examples of this can include aligning a header image to the left to help the user prepare to read an article. You could also space certain text from an image to help refresh the user’s mind. 

Balanced Composition

Depending on how much information that you want to show up on a webpage, white space is an excellent way to break up the business. People can only digest information in sections. The more white space you have around that information, the more effective that message will be. This will potentially increase the interactions that would then take place on your web page. 

Use White Space for Showcasing 

Whenever you would like a user to zone in on the details of a certain element such as a graphic, white space can help accomplish that. White space can isolate an element free from distraction in order to allow the user to digest it thoroughly. 

Provide a sense of luxury. 

Websites tend to lean towards minimalism when they want their products to speak for itself. Companies such as Apple are aware that allowing their devices to stand on their own is more than effective. Not only do they not say much about their devices, but the white space that are used in advertising elevates their products altogether. 

Branding Benefits

Depending on the tone of a business, the use of white space can be used to match the mood that a brand wants to portray. 


White space was once thought to be such an abysmal idea seeing that people had the idea that all space is meant to be used. Today, many people still have that belief, and are at times afraid to use it. Much like using a grid for web design, white space can really help with the composition of the design.