Many people don’t understand the proper use of white space on a document or interface nor the value it could bring to successfully creating clear communications. Often the feeling is that if there is space, something is missing or it is an empty area that is just wasting space and needs to be filled up.
In fact, this is totally wrong, white space is very important for clear communications. In fact, I might make the case for it being the most important aspect if used properly. That is, just any old white space is not appropriate. But, also keep in mind that just the proper use of white space doesn’t guarantee clear communications. It is one of the most valuable components and used in conjunction with other key attributes will result in clear communications.
People concentrate on other aspects, that is, plain language, content, typography, etc., but most don’t understand how the proper use of white space helps the user find information and how it makes readability easier.
Here is a simple example of content that is hard to read due to both the lack of white space and inappropriate use of white space. On the right side, all of the text runs together making readability difficult. Yet on the left, the text is crammed together leaving space below and therefore, readability is not as easy as it could be.
On the other hand, this example, a reworking of the above, separates and groups like information thus making the content easier to read. The use of white space here allows for the eye to see groupings and easily travel from one group to another.
So, keep in mind that proper use of white space is the space around groupings that allows it to stand apart from others. Remember, white space is not an area that needs to be filled up. Let it work for your communications and your audience will be able to Locate, Understand and Act on the information in the communication.
The result will be fewer customer service calls and a better customer experience.
By Robert Linsky (NEPS, August 11, 2017)