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The importance of white space

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Over 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. So when communicating with clients it is extremely important to hand them something visual that is memorable and easy to understand. Printed marketing material, everything from business cards to brochures to banners and outdoor signs, needs to have an impact. And the key to creating an impact is white space.

What is white space?

White space is the area of a design that your eye perceives as emptiness. The space might actually be black, but your eyes think of that area as empty or background. The more white space in a design, the easier it is for the mind to find and focus on what's important. Designs with a lot of white space are described as clean and bold, while designs with little white space are described as cluttered and confusing.

How to use white space

White space should be used to indicate importance to the viewer. Your logo, product or whatever is most important should be surrounded by white space. When Apple launched the Apple Watch, it did so by placing 12 advertisements in Vogue Magazine. The ads just a picture of the watch, or sometimes just the watch band on a white background. There are no big words. They don't explain any features or benefits. There's no price. There's not even information on how to buy it. These ads communicate that this is a sleek, sophisticated, luxury item. If you want and can afford something like that, you don't really care about the price and the assumption is that you'll figure out where to buy it.

Compare that to a Walmart flyer. The flyer from Walmart is completely filled with product images and text including prices, dates, and product names. They know their customers are very price conscious and are looking for a deal.

There isn't anything wrong or even worse about the Walmart approach. It is totally in line with their brand and their target customer. It would be incongruous and even confusing if Walmart ran an add like the one for the Apple Watch with a picture of laundry detergent.

The thing is, most companies don't compete and win on price as successfully as Walmart. Most businesses compete on value. Customers need to know that a business is trustworthy and provides real value, not just the best price. So when you want to communicate that you provide value, even if it's not a luxury item like the Apple Watch, you need to incorporate white space into the designs for your business cards, brochures, banners and signs. Crisp, clean designs communicate more effectively than words that your product or service is high quality and provides real value.