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White Space in Web Design

You’re designing your business website. If you’re like most designers, your first instinct is probably to draw up a catalog of layouts, color schemes, icons, and stock photos. But chances are you’re missing one important factor: white space.

Put simply, white space is the empty space between text, graphics, and other design elements. It’s easy to dismiss white space as a by-product of design, or whatever’s left after the designer has done his job. But good design requires you to treat white space as a vital part of the project. Just as you carefully plan out what to put on the page, you should also choose wisely what to leave out.

Why is white space important?
Long before the Web was born, people have been using white space in print, film, advertising, and even architecture. But what makes white space especially vital on the Web is the added strain on the reader’s eyes. Pixels are harsher on screen than on paper. White space, when properly placed, makes the page easier on the eyes and keeps people reading all the way to the sales page.

White space is not minimalism
A common misconception is that the use of white space makes your site minimalist. Actually, you can cram a page full of information and still have enough white space to make it readable. With careful selection of fonts, sizes, and colors, you can position white space so that readers are naturally led from one section to another.

Macro and micro white space
Macro white space is what you see at first glance, like the splash of white that greets your eyes when you enter an Apple store. On the Web, it’s the space around graphics, headings, and blocks of text, which helps create spatial relationships between these elements. Increasing or decreasing white space around an object makes it look more or less important in relation to the rest of the page.

Micro white space, on the other hand, is the space between the smaller parts of a visual element. A good example is the space between lines and letters in a paragraph. Too little whitespace makes it hard to read. But place letters t o o f a r a p a r t and people won’t know where one word ends and the other begins. Micro white space makes all the difference in terms of readability.

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