the principles of design: white space

The principle of WHITE SPACE:

Ahhhh, space… space to move, space to breathe, space to think. Give me space and I’m happy. Clean, sophisticated and non-complicated.

White space on a designed page is really no different. It gives the viewer a safe area to take in and digest the message. Designers call it ‘visual relief’ and provides a break from the other design elements that are found on any page.

The term white space comes from a time when most designs were printed on a white page, and therefore the areas that did not contain image or text were simply clean white space. Consequently, there exists an urge among new and non-designers to fill the white page. If there is white showing on a page, then fill it up quickly with more images and text… more message of course! The more the better, right? Well not quite. If you happen to fall into this category of designers then quickly cast those thoughts aside, because in fact, the opposite is really true. A good designer uses this white space wisely to draw attention to the most important elements on the page. Less is truly more, and you have a much better chance of driving a message home to your audience with a clean direct message, rather than a lot of busy elements all competing for attention.

Now don’t be fooled into thinking that white space is less important than the other elements in your design. White space is also known as ‘negative space’ because it represents the non-image. Some might think that because it isn’t there, it doesn’t matter, but truthfully the white or negative space has as much power as any other element on the page. Everything works together to convey a message.

A final little known fact is that white space doesn’t actually have to be white! It can be any color that fills the area around and beyond your elements. It provides the same visual relief that white does. A place for the eye to rest and a place for the brain to think. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

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