This may singlehandedly be the most difficult subject for a non-designer to address. Not because it’s complex, but to most, the range of answers tend to be confusing. It’s assumed that common practice is to fill available space because ‘real estate’ can be quite costly, but that could be the worst mistake when designing anything. Adding unnecessary copy, images or graphics only makes a design more congested and takes away from the visual hierarchy it has. A healthy dose of white space will keep your design clean and organized, and also give the viewer an increased chance of hitting on all the visual cues that are important to success of your advertisement.
So what exactly is white space?
Many non-designers will tell you that white space is ‘wasted space.’ Or maybe even that their designer was too lazy to put something there. In reality, white space is very deliberate. It helps to bring emphasis to a particular area of a design and also implies luxury and sophistication. When there is ample space around an element in a design, our brains are tricked into thinking that it is important and our eyes are immediately drawn to it. You may not even realize when it happens.
It’s that subtle.
Big bold block text, colorful swooshes, other visual overload… nothing really stands a chance when white space is involved. White space in a design allows us to use our imaginations which strengthen our emotional response to what we are viewing. Humans by nature have a need to figure out what we don’t know and as a result we create our own experiences and narratives to what we think we are viewing. The unknown is a powerful tool that, if used correctly, can take any marketing touch or advertisement and turn it into an effective thought provoking masterpiece.
When working on your next project that involves design, I challenge you to get uncomfortable and expand your thinking and understanding of white space. Try to think of it more as another design element rather than another place to add more sales jargon that will likely be overlooked. In the design world, the pieces that you leave out are just as important as the ones you create.