Use White Space to Create Effective Web and Graphic Designs

Last week Fire Enterprises (FEI) Marketing Tribe Leader Marka taught rookie customer-service rep Aetius how white papers can function as effective informational pieces for B2B companies. This week, FEI design guru Cecil shows the FEI tribe how white space can function as a highly effective graphic design element. Remember, fire = print.

One afternoon, FEI Sales Tribe Leader Zoot brought Cecil a design comp for a new FEI ad, which he’d quickly put together in O-Powerpoint. “Whaddya think?”

“This design is creative but way too cluttered,” Cecil said. “Don’t you know how to use white space as a design element?”

Zoot looked at Cecil with confusion.

“I better call a meeting,” Cecil said.

The next day, the FEI tribe—Zoot, Tribe Leader Org, Marketing Tribe Leader Marka, and Accounting Tribe Leader Numo—gathered in the main FEI conference room.

“Today we’re going to talk about using white space as a design element in print and graphic design,” Cecil said.

“Why should we care about this?” Numo asked. “We’re not designers.”

“Anyone involved in creating FEI’s marketing materials should understand the concept of white space,” Cecil said. “White space is defined as the spacing between different elements in a design. This includes everything from the space between sections of a promotion to the space between letters.”

“Many designs I see today—ads, postcards, O-Websites, even text-heavy pieces like case studies—use lots of white space,” Marka said.

“True,” Org said. “Think about Grape Computers. Their ads—and their stores—are as minimalist as they come.”

“White-space-heavy designs have become popular for a reason,” Cecil said. “Consumers like them because they’re easier to scan or read, and businesses like them because they help effectively communicate marketing messages. Let me explain further.”

Cecil headed to the whiteboard and began scribbling:

White space is pleasing to the eye—“White space leads to simpler designs, and the eye is drawn to simplicity,” Cecil said. “Designs that are too crowded or complicated are harder for users to enjoy. Promotions that are more pleasing to look at are more likely to get read.”

Remember,” Cecil continued. “Lots of white space doesn’t have to mean boring. White space can connote elegance and sophistication. Think of Grape Computers’ Website—it’s minimalist with white space galore, and it’s anything but boring.”

White space increases readability—“Most prospects will quickly scan our promotion before actually reading to see if it interests them,” Cecil said. “Cluttered and text-heavy designs are hard for consumers to take in at a glance. White space provides a valuable buffer between design elements, making it easy for today’s busy consumers to quickly get a sense of what a promotion’s offering. Putting appropriate spacing between lines and letters is also proven to improve readability of our copy. Making our promotions easier to scan and read will increase the chances of prospects taking the desired actions.”

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
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  • printkeg

    I try to use quite a bit of white space on our website to keep the site clean.