We’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting showing one of your designs and a stakeholder says “what about all this space inbetween the sections?” or “what are we going to put in this empty spot down here?”. We, in response, roll our eyes and think about how to explain the need to have empty space on the page so that the user can actually digest the information that is displaying. I couldn’t help but think about these situations on a recent trip across the pond.
While in England, I got the chance to visit the Tate Britain, which shows English art dating back to the 1500s (as well as modern treats to look at). As I walked from gallery to gallery I couldn’t help but notice in this, as well as most other art galleries, the large amount of space inbetween the pieces. Rarely, if ever, would you go to an art gallery and see painting on top of painting, piece upon piece. Instead you are given the chance to stand and absorb and reflect on a single piece. It sits alone so that you can experience it and try to understand it, in your own way.
So, stakeholders and the like, do you want your web pages to be like newspaper classifieds where you see one ad after another all stacked tightly together, confusing potential readers and distracting their attention from their goal OR would you like your site to be like an esteemed art gallery, where users can go and experience the product and walk out wanting to return and enjoy another day? My guess is that the art gallery user is going to be a return customer time and time again, whereas the classifieds user visits once, finds or doesn’t find what they are looking for, and leaves never to return (unless absolutely necessary). You decide which site you want to be, and the whitespace can help you get there.