Why you should love White Space

Convince yourself for better design strategy

It looks too simple
Don’t you think it has too much space
Ah! There is nothing here. It looks empty

These are the reactions usually visual designers get while designing an android app or probably any other software product with the flat design approach(I could vouch for android apps because i work on that platform). I, personally, love flat designs and reason is simple. It can be directly attributed with the minimalist design. No Chromes or gimmicks, just the content.

While designing apps with such flatter approach you will get the above criticisms, not from the users, but from your team. From your co-designers. From your co-developers. Even from someone who is called conscience. And that is the problem. We, while designing/developing, hate white space.

For product owners the problem with white space is that they could fill them with content. For Developers the problem with white space is that they fear product is incomplete(because there are space around the app). For Visual Designers the problem with white space is that they want to fill the UI with colorful-pixels.

If you are a white-space hater and uttered the quotes at top of the post then get on the board. It will help you understand why whitespace will give better user experience. Because users love white space.

But Why? Why Use white-space?

Making your UI simple will reduce the cognitive load for users to understand whats there in the UI itself

Its pretty simple and straight forward. When the brain needs less cognitive load, it will indulge and immerses into your content. The brain doesnot get tired or bored by your interface and next time when user tries to open your app, brain will not get into the way.

But When? When to use white-space?

Too much of content is good for nothing. When there is overwhelming content you must use the white space to make your content more prominent. You cannot find the shirt you need from pile of clothes from laundry. Similarly when there is large/huge content users can not find what they need. They will get annoyed. They will get bored. Use the white space wisely to present your content.

Overwhelming content without space. Not so compelling. Source : Internet

While conducting user-research tests, developers in the next room will be screaming like this. “They could see the button. But why don’t they just tap it.” The problem is that they could see the button, along with all other distractions.

How? How to use white-space (in mobile apps)?

Designing for smaller screens is always a challenge. When there is no enough space for content itself how could we add white-space. You could very well follow the below listed steps.

  1. Strip down unwanted UI elements. If there is an element which has no purpose then it has no room in your UI. Similarly don’t remove/hide important UI elements. It will lead to a serious UX problems.
  2. Split up your overwhelming content. Seperate them and look for a way to present them in compelling way. (I like Circa app for their presentation of content. You could see it here)
  3. Now there will be room for some space. If not, goto step 1.
  4. Use the white space to decorate content. Using space to decorate is an awesome trick and that’s going to distinguish yourself from others.

So strip down unwanted distractions. Make your content more prominent. Add some space. Use space to decorate content. And then serve it.

I don’t hear the complaints. Source : Internet.
It looks too simple
Don’t you think it has too much space
Ah! There is nothing here. It looks empty

Wrap-Up

If you are an android developer you would probably come across the Material Design Principles. Read the guidelines, it gives importance for spacing.

If you are not still convinced that “white-space will give better user experience” look around medium. It’s the place where i learned the importance of white-space.


Further Reading

If you are convinced, now convince your clients. — http://www.designer-daily.com/how-to-convince-your-clients-of-the-importance-of-white-space-22971

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