Everywhere we look, we see design. From street signs to newspaper adverts, from billboards to business cards, to the unwanted junk mail in our letterbox. Often the visual messages are an assault on our eyes. It’s unreadable and we lose interest within 3-4 seconds.
So, how do we crack through the barrier and help our customers take notice of our messages? White space is one solution that designers love to use but more often than not, our clients will say ‘can we fill this blank space’. (Insert polite silent scream here…)
So, what is white space?
- The portions of a design that are left unmarked e.g. the absence of content.
- The area around the other graphic elements such as type, imagery, lines, etc. This is often referred to as ‘negative space’, meaning the areas around and between graphic elements
- A design element.
- Deliberate space (not left-over space that needs to be filled).
- Whitespace could be the paper colour. It may not actually be white. It can also be a background of printed colour.
The ad below is a great example. The vast expanse of sky draws you in and matches up perfectly with the Australian Tourism brand of wide open spaces. Imagine how different this ad would be if the lovely space was filled with more unnecessary copy.
Why use space?
White space is used as a device to help rest the eye and take in the important visual element or message. It sub-consciously allows a reader or viewer to take a breath and focus. It’s a luxury. It invites people in and allows you to feel comfortable enough to spend another few seconds taking in the message.
Is it always necessary?
Not always. It depends on the brand and the message you are trying to achieve. Consumers have grown used to seeing cluttered supermarket catalogues and car sales adverts in local newspapers. No white space in sight but if you’re looking for a used car or a supermarket special, you’ll spend the time to read these types of adverts.
Sometimes a brand will want to bombard you with imagery that makes you stop and invest in the story, like this advert below, for eating lamb on Australia Day. It’s fun, colourful and tells the story of an Aussie summer BBQ perfectly.
White space might become your best friend
Next time your designer presents you with artwork that has white space, don’t automatically try to think of something to fill it up with. Think about what that space adds to your design and you might be pleasantly surprised with a new best friend.