The Elegance & Efficacy of White Space in UI Design
Your designs can be amplified through strategic silence. Embracing the emptiness adds value, as there is often more to less.
In User Interface (UI) design, each pixel, element and choice holds significant value, and so do the empty spaces within the design canvas. These empty spaces between and around elements are sometimes recognised as White Space and are extremely pivotal in shaping the user experience, providing accessibility and influencing the overall aesthetics of the design. In this article, we aim to highlight the different advantages that white space offers in design using real-world examples from various brands that help in crafting exceptional user experiences while forming a lasting impression on the user.
Before we take a look at the examples, let’s illustrate some benefits of white space, and why it makes it one of the underdog design tools which nurture aesthetic design:
Enhances Clarity & Comprehension
Using white space evenly helps the user scan the content with ease and navigate through the user interface with immense clarity. By using a mix of active and passive white space, we can guide the user towards both, aesthetic, and functional parts of the interface.
Fosters Visual Hierarchy
White space can be strategically used to create a visual hierarchy within a UI. Important elements with more white space around them naturally draw the user's attention which we as designers can use to their benefit in guiding the user to the right call-to-action. This also helps in interaction rates since the user is more aware of what they need to do.
Reduces Cognitive Load
Cluttered UIs can overwhelm users, increasing cognitive load. Adequate white space reduces this load by introducing some breathing space, making the interface less crowded and more approachable.
Interactive elements like buttons, links, and form fields benefit from adequate white space around them. It reduces the chances of accidental clicks or inputs and provides room for user interactions without errors.
White space can improve the accessibility of a UI. Sufficient spacing between interactive elements ensures that users with motor impairments or visual impairments can interact with the interface more comfortably.
Now that we have illustrated the benefits, let’s have a look at a few examples which implement an efficient and elegant use of white space.
Polestar’s website is a classic example of a classy and minimalistic design which implements white space to its advantage. The focus is on the Polestar 2 vehicle, along with an appropriate call-to-action (CTA) to help the user discover more about the vehicle. Having a clear typographic hierarchy, the user feels motivated to make an informed decision being learning more about the features of the vehicle while keeping the design clean and clutter-free.
Cowboy’s website is another example which highlights their product with the help of great product photography. What this does in return is utilise good white space while demonstrating the prowess of their bicycle. With the help of a catchy and bold caption, Cowboy aims to convince the user towards the user-friendliness of their product, making this composition visually aesthetic.
Pocket Penguins is a series of little books under Penguin’s publication. This is a highly minimalistic design of the website which serves the purpose of directing the user’s attention to their line of books. The entire website uses white space judiciously while also adhering to other possible brand guidelines, such as big, impactful typography and a harmonious colour palette to name a few. The lack of a definite CTA on the landing page means that they intend the user to gain knowledge about their product first and then work on converting them towards their business goals.
Wealthsimple’s website uses a mix of 3D art with a balanced textual hierarchy to make an impactful landing page. By pairing different fonts and maintaining a visual hierarchy, along with adequate white space and colourful imagery, the user’s attention is automatically guided towards the CTA which will help them get started with investing towards long-term wealth. The entire website is a visual delight which negates cognitive load thereby making the design highly accessible and functional at the same time.
Often considered the pioneers of minimalistic design, Apple’s website is a legendary example when it comes to implementing the right use for white space. Here we have the latest iPhone 15 Pro webpage where the entire emphasis is on the product. Apple chooses to flaunt the latest material they have used, along with providing the best CTA for converting the user towards their ecosystem. Not only this, they differentiate the CTA with a contrasting colour so that the user’s attention is directed straight towards purchasing. Pairing it with essential information like the cost only makes it easier for the user to decide swiftly.
In essence, white space is an unsung hero of UI design, a strategic tool that transforms crowded screens into inviting and intuitive digital environments. Embracing the power of white space is not just an option but a fundamental principle that not only aids towards great visual design but also helps accomplish the business goals set by the company by directing the users towards clear and informed decisions.