Graphic design is a way to communicate a certain message by using typography, visual arts or page layout techniques whether we are talking about newspapers, ads, logos and branding or websites. This form of design is defined by visual communication and it takes some time to master the best of its techniques so that your target audience will understand your message.
As in many other domains, graphic design is a process that consists of several main steps that you have to take into consideration. This way you can ease your work, be more organized and meet deadlines in time. It begins with analyzing your audience, stepping through defining the purpose of your message and then establishing what layout and visual graphics you will use in order to send that message.
At the same time the graphics you will use will also have to be neatly organized so that the information you deliver is straight to the subject and is easily understood by the viewer. Of course, there are hundreds of tips on how to master graphic design, but this article is dedicated entirely to white space. I have already introduced it to you in one of my recent articles and I though a detailed overview on this wouldn’t hurt, right? Remember fellow designers, – white space is important! And in the following article I will try to explain why.
What is White Space?
Using white space means having a good eye for composition in the first place. This means you have to be able to find the right layout and composition so that the information or whatever you are focusing on will be easy to read and spot.
Generally there are 2 types of white space:
- Active White Space (this one insures a better structure and layout in design and it gives focus to the content area. It is usually left out intentionally, hence it delimits one element from the other)
- Passive White Space (this is the default white space left out at the borders or in between content in order to make it readable)
White space exists for a reason – to ease the process of analyzing graphics or content so this is what you have to remember while using it in graphic design. The human eye percepts an organized and clean layout better than a cluttered space full of visual disturbances.
Why should you use White Space?
Balance the layout
Indeed, passive white space is one of the reasons why text is visually received and understood better, whether we are talking about the regular white space or negative space, used in designs with dark background and white text. It also improves readability. The more space you use the easier to read. Space creates a certain balance in your output, making it easier to consume – remember that!
In order to focus the viewer on a picture, try using white borders (you can of course use other colors as well). This way you can attract attention on what’s inside an object or a picture for that matter. Make use of white space in these situations and you will see how much more improved your graphic design can be.
Focus on certain content or pictures
Another good technique for using white space in your design is using it in excess. Now I’m not saying this is going to work for all designs, but when used appropriately it can really be effective. Imagine a text that has lots of white/black space around it. Tumblr has many pictures like that and my eyes go straight to the text in these cases. You could try using this technique in your graphic design and see how this ends up. It also works for emphasizing different graphics. An object on a plain background will have a stronger visual impact that one on a mottled background.
People appreciate it
In general the simpler the design looks, in terms of it being pretty plain but interesting at the same time, is better received by people. A cluttered design is like a cluttered desk – you can never find what you need, or if you find it than you spend lots of time looking for it. There is a bigger chance that people will like your design, if you try using plain colors like white in our case and there is a chance it will be remember quicker.
Layout appreciates it
Play with your layout and see how much it changes when you make use of white space. Instead of cluttering for instance your images and your text that goes with it together, try separating them by using white space. It depends on you whether you use a vertical or horizontal layout, but white space will definitely delimit and focus on your content, but will not leave the picture in the shadow. Experiment and try to understand what layout works best for you.
An elegant design is ensured
I have always considered white and black as the most elegant colors out there. They are simple but they do send the right message when you need it. White is pure, black is strong and this is why most designers make use of these two colors. In general fancy companies use a lot of white space to advertise their products, though it is not a rule. I do like this strategy and even though it looks simple, I think it is pretty elegant and good-looking.
White space is important – yes, but it all depends on you how you want to use it. Use it in excess – and you might get either a boring design, or an elegant and truly unique one. Use it a little bit to get a cluttered design, or to leave out the most important elements. All I am saying is that white space will help you organize your layout better and it is as important as the content of your design.