Until a decade ago, web design meant using a lot of design elements and gradients, to give a colorful look and feel to your projects. Of course, those were the days when responsive design and adaptive design were unheard of, since mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets were not too popular.
Yet, today, the trend has changed. Nowadays, responsive design is a necessity, not a luxury. Furthermore, content stands tall, and as such, minimalism in web design is in vogue. That said, how does one implement true minimalism? And most importantly, what role does whitespace play in a minimal web design concept? In this article, I will attempt to answer these questions.
Defining whitespace seems pretty easy: anything that is left intentionally blank or empty, so as to focus all the attention on the main content. However, whitespace has much more to it than this basic definition: what exactly does white space do?
Let us take up the case of a blog. You can have your content in the main region, and a regular sidebar, along with a flashy header, and a heavy footer, and a lot more. Surely, this layout can work. But will it make your content stand out? Will it leave your readers’ attention undivided?
The answer is: no. At the end of it all, your readers might be distracted by that sidebar widget and fail to focus on your longform post. This is where whitespace comes handy: let the text and images stand apart; let them speak for themselves.
But there is much more than that when it comes to whitespace.
In reality, whitespace complements your website’s design. Look at Google’s homepage: people go there to search for websites, images, videos, and so on. Will having a flashy background serve any purpose? Everyone is just bothered with the search bar – no matter what the background may be!
But by having an enormous level of whitespace, Google have ensured that people end up focusing on their logo as well: the only design is the logo, so with nothing else to distract, the user’s eyes do check it out. And this is precisely why Google Doodles end up being so popular: the white space complements them well.
Using whitespace is really easy: you do not have to sacrifice your sidebar or any of the content. Just attempt a minimal design layout: the content stands alone, and in all other regions, let the empty space provide ample breathing room for the visitors’ eyes.
A good example is the WordPress default theme, Twenty Fifteen. The sidebar exists, the content takes up the major portion, but everywhere else, the whitespace ensures that there are zero distractions and hindrances for the reading experience. As such, the whitespace in Twenty Fifteen WordPress theme enhances both user experience and user interface. [Tips for Designing a Great User Experience]
Minimalism in web design is something that you can achieve only by careful planning. You cannot “design” minimalism; you have to implement it. Whitespace, along with clean typography and good color choices, is the key towards a successful minimal design.
At this point, it is worth pondering over a simple yet solid statement: good design is actually no design. The “no design” part here does not mean that design does not exist; instead, it means that design is invisible. Whitespace makes your design invisible to such an extent that your content gets the spotlight and lets your users communicate better with your content. [Web Design Inspiration]
Furthermore, whitespace is probably the only factor that you cannot overdo in web design. Look at Facebook, Google+, or any other major web design layout: whitespace does exist, even though it might be supplemented by heavy headers or darker colors.
What do you think about the role of whitespace in web design? Share your views with us using the comments below!
Featured Image: Mitch Altman