Anyone who has ever worked in print publications will know there is a constant jockeying between the designers and the writers. Designers want space to be artistic, writers want space for their words. And an 8.5×11-inch piece of paper doesn’t get any bigger, no matter how clever you are.
The best thing about the Internet is that there is literally unlimited space. The only constraint is the width of your computer screen. The length of a page on a website could go on much longer than it takes for a finger to get tired of scrolling, and a mouse could wear out much faster than it would take to click through all the pages on the web.
But even though all of this is true, there is still a tendency to try to jam as much content as possible on a single page, and to try to make web pages about the same size as we are used to reading a magazine on. But website design is quite a bit different than designing for a print publication. Websites must be fully responsive, which means their look and feel has to be flexible enough to shrink down and expand appropriately according to the type of device they are being viewed on. The eye needs a bit of time to rest when it’s scanning a page, and that’s where the power of white space comes in. Sometimes it’s just better to say nothing at all to make sure what is being said is heard properly.
White Space and Why You Should Use It
White space is often referred to as negative space, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing. It refers to a portion of a page intentionally left blank, unmarked, or empty. It doesn’t have to be white, either. It can be the same colour as the background of your website, or any other colour at all, as long as it is free of any and all design elements and text. Most often on websites white space is used around graphics, images, in between columns and around text. Basically, it is meant to remind us to take a moment and enjoy something beautiful on a page, whether it be a well-put-together piece of writing, or a gorgeous photo, or a smart and functional logo.
The interesting thing about white space is that even though it’s blank, it’s job it to add, not take away. It should enhance the experience of a site viewer or user. The more it’s used in website design, the higher quality your site tends to look. It works to sort of trick the user into thinking about budget … if there’s plenty of white space, obviously the company has plenty of authority, and they believe in their product so much that they will let it speak for itself.
Don’t Forget … The Fold Still Matters
The “fold” refers to the part of a page that appears at the very top before scrolling. These days, even that is a rather nebulous definition, due to the hugely varying types of devices available. As the user experience experts at Nielsen-Norman Group (NNG) put it in their article, “The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters,” the fold online is more concept than measurement, since it’s highly dependent on the size of the user’s screen. But whatever you do, make sure the most important stuff is right at the top, and that it’s clear, concise, and to the point.
Your content is a gateway to your business as a whole. When a reader finds a piece of your content valuable, they’re more likely to continue browsing your site. They might land on another piece of content, or find themselves browsing your online store. Either way, the content that initially catches their eye is what ultimately unlocks the rest of your site.
Scrolling is OK, Too
The importance of “above the fold” may seem to weaken the argument for plenty of white space, but it doesn’t when you take into consideration that people really don’t mind scrolling. Definitely concentrate your most valuable information at the top of the page, and if people’s interests are piqued, they’ll keep going. Another NNG article titled “Scrolling and Attention” says that people scroll vertically more than they ever have, however information above the fold still gets the most consideration. They found that, “Basically, the fold as a barrier has been pushed down to the third screenful — 8 years ago, 80% of the viewing time was spent in the first screenful of info (above the fold); today, 81% of the viewing time is spent in the first three screenfuls of information.”
Website Design Services By Emphasize
Emphasize Design of Calgary offers fully customizable website design and online marketing packages that encompass all the necessary elements to provide value to both you and your business’s clients. Our mission is to always remain passionate about what we do and who we represent.