When you’re designing a new website—or giving an old one a facelift—it’s easy to get caught up in all the details. What font family should we use? Should we stick to the colors in the logo, or add in a few accents? Is it time to jump on the parallax scrolling bandwagon, or should we stick to the basics? Should we learn what is whitespace?

These are all important. But did you know that sometimes it’s what isn’t there that makes the biggest difference? That’s the principle behind whitespace, one of the most valuable (and neglected) elements of web design.

But what is it anyway, and how can it make or break your web page? Read on to find out.

What Is Whitespace?

Think back to the websites you visited in the early 2000s. They were full of bright, clashing colors, loud graphics, and tons of tiny font crammed above the fold. Rather than making people want to stay and read the content, sites like these can leave visitors feeling overstimulated and distracted.

Whitespace, also known as negative space, is a modern design element that keeps us from falling back into our bad Y2K habits. It involves leaving adequate amounts of space between your text, images, and interactive page elements. Despite the name it doesn’t have to be white—any solid, neutral color will do.

Along with keeping your site from looking cluttered, using whitespace can also make it easier for visitors to read and engage with your content. This will improve your users’ experience—something that can have a large payoff in sales.

Using Negative Space to Design Clean Websites

The concept is simple, but it can be difficult to implement well. Here are a few elements to consider in relation to your site.

Macro and Micro Whitespace

Design preferences aside, some whitespace is essential to read the text on a page. Known as micro whitespace, the area between letters, words, and lines of text is vital to making your page’s content comprehensible.

Larger empty areas, like those between page elements and around graphics, are known as macro whitespace. These areas keep different topics separate from each other and make a page easier to scan.

Active and Passive Whitespace

Passive whitespace happens on its own when you use images or text that already have space between them.

But passive space on its own isn’t enough to make your site stand out. To design a page that directs readers’ eyes down to the main points, you need to add active (intentional) whitespace that helps the elements flow together.

Emphasize Your Call to Action

If there’s one area that needs whitespace more than any other, it’s your call to action (CTA). Your CTA might be a button, an order form, or a “contact us” box.

Whatever form your it takes, make sure you leave plenty of active macro whitespace around it. This will naturally draw your readers’ attention, making sure your CTA doesn’t get lost amongst the other content.

Bringing Balance to Your Site’s Design

Whitespace elements can take many forms. So while these guidelines are a great place to start, you may have to spend some time experimenting to find the best balance for your site.

So what is whitespace in regards to your site’s ideal design? If you’d like some help answering that question and creating a homepage that feels balanced, drop us a line. We’d love to help you take care of all your web needs and make the most of your online presence.