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The Importance of White Space in Web Design

Gagan Saggu
Written By
Gagan Saggu
Published On
Dec 18, 2023
A website with colourful visual elements and plenty of white space

Don’t we all need a little space? 

Website development is no exception. Well, white space that is. 

Also called “negative space,” this powerful design element typically refers to paragraph breaks, wide margins on a page, and blank areas within or around images. 

When leveraged skillfully, it enhances the user experience. What looks like emptiness, actually brings a ton of value—like balance, legibility, minimalism, better readability, and improved focus on important calls to action. 

Keep reading to learn more about the meaning of white space, the psychology behind it, and more reasons why your website needs it. 

Table of Contents: 

What Is White Space in Web Design?

Whitespace refers to the negative areas in web design

Providing distance between elements reduces distractions, helping viewers process what’s important without feeling overwhelmed. Using white space strategically makes the content look more organized and aesthetically pleasing.

Its presence impacts how our brains process information—it helps facilitate systematic comprehension. Think of it this way: seeing too much information squished into a space can make your brain feel like it’s getting an information overload. As a result, it can cause cognitive fatigue and make it difficult to absorb information.

Despite its name, ‘white space’ in web design doesn’t specifically refer to the colour. Rather, white space can be any colour, texture, or even a background image as long as it provides a breather from information-dense areas of your website. 

Its earliest roots can be traced back to 20th-century works of Chinese artists and calligraphers. They left empty spaces on the white rice paper they used for art, but did not treat it as wasted space. Instead, they found significance in the emptiness and believed it contributed to the rhythm and understanding of the whole picture. 

The Different Types of White Space

There are different types of white space: active, passive, micro, and macro white space. Let’s break them down in more detail: 

Active White Space

Active white space is intentionally created to structure and organize a design. It’s also used to draw more focus to a specific design element. 

Passive White Space

The space that occurs naturally is called passive white space, such as the space between words or the blank space around a logo or graphic element.

Macro White Space

When discussing the large space between major content blocks or the space surrounding major layout elements, you’re discussing macro white space. 

Micro White Space

Micro white space refers to the smaller gaps such as line spacing in text and the gaps between elements like images, graphics, and logos.

A web developer pointing at design elements on a draft

5 Reasons To Use White Space in Web Design 

     1. Propels Visitors to Take Action

What actions do you want visitors to take when they land on your website? Whether it’s to buy a product or schedule an appointment, proper use of white space can better draw attention to critical calls to action. 

     2. Enhances Legibility

If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from this era of skim reading, it’s that it’s pretty difficult to go about skimming when what we’re looking at is messy. When you incorporate enough white space between letters, words, lines, and other elements, you improve the user experience in a meaningful way. 

      3. Improves Organization and Navigation

White spaces enforce visual hierarchy and create an organized flow between pages. Positioning and spacing are crucial to usability, and when you leverage white space in web design, you create a user interface that’s easy to navigate. 

     4. Elevates Branding

Clear CTAs, legibility, usability, and organized visuals are all vital elements of branding—and using white space in web design ticks all these boxes. At the same time, white space is considered modern, elegant, and minimalistic. If that’s a description that fits your company, then you can trust it to communicate your brand’s personality and style.

      5. Never Goes Out of Style

White space has been a well-loved element since the 20th century. When you incorporate it in your modern web designs, you can rest assured that it’ll be in style for a long time, reducing the need for you to constantly overhaul your pages. 

A web designer working on a web page project on their laptop

Get Web Designs That Pop

White space in web design can seem quite tricky—using too little negatively impacts usability, while an abundance of it can come across as bland. It’s far too easy to get sucked into a black hole of rules and best practices. 

Instead, why not the experts at The Influence Agency handle it? Our team specializes in designing websites for some of the biggest brands in North America. From next-level aesthetics to ultra-convenient usability, our sites keep visitors coming back. 

Talk to us today to start having your website built by the pros.

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