What’s the Deal with White Space?


If you have participated in any conversations about design, you’ve likely encountered the term white space. Likelier still, you’ve heard a designer talk about white space in a positive way. And if you are like me, you have heard the non-designers in the room talk about white space in a completely different way, viewing it as ample opportunity to add more text, more imagery, more buttons.

White space is the illusive design element that doesn’t feel like a design element. It exists in the absence of everything else. It is a part of the design, and yet it just feels like empty space the designer forgot to use.

Sometimes these conversations get heated, and turn ugly. Designers don’t like explaining to marketers that white space is a good thing, that white space can help emphasize the elements of the design that you want to emphasize. Marketers think designers are just saying that, like it’s some excuse not to add more to the page/poster/flyer, etc.

So who is right? Is white space a good thing or not? Let’s settle the debate once and for all.

I don’t like to admit this, but in this case, the designer is right. But…(we’ll get back to the “but” later)

Why White Space Matters

White space, which is actually a common practice in a variety of arts, actually derives its name from graphic design, when everything used to be printed on white paper. But actually, white space doesn’t have to be white. It can be any color.

White space is simply blank space in and around the design. And it serves as a background, a buffer zone, a separation of individual elements, calling attention to the things in the design that you want people to see when they look at it.

We all know what the absence of white space looks like when we see it. It’s the old coupon flyers that people carry around the grocery store, and the original homepage design on Amazon.com, and a million other things that are so cluttered they are tough to look at.

And that is why white space matters. Because it makes the design more pleasing to the eyes. It keeps things clean and directs the eye.

Good designers know how to use white space to their advantage. They know that when the rest of us look at something, we’re not thinking, “oh, what great use of white space”. But we like what we see, even if we don’t know why.

What About that “But”?

There’s always a “but”. And that’s because some designers fall in love with white space. Just because it is an important design element, doesn’t mean it should be overused. If you overuse anything, it becomes a problem.

In an effort to simplify, designers cut and cut and cut, until the message gets lost in an attempt to emphasize just one element at the expense of every other.

Just like anything else, designs should be tested and adjusted in the real world.

web design, design theory, design elements, designers

Zach Heller

When You Emphasize Everything, You Emphasize Nothing

This is a post about design. But it could just as easily be a post about copywriting, or pricing and offers, or marketing strategy on the whole. Because the concept is the same no matter what we talk about.


But to really hone in on the message, let’s use an example. Let’s say that you are responsible for marketing at a company that sells doggie treats. Your boss/CEO/manager puts you in charge of a new campaign to launch the latest line of doggie treats.

“There’s a lot riding on this,” she says. “But I’m confident you can get the job done.”

You are working with your web team and your email team and your social team (or maybe that’s all one person, and maybe it’s you) to put together the initial announcements and offers, and to create the landing page on the site that you will drive interested dog owners to.

Your web designer might ask, “What is the most important element of this page?”

Several things enter your mind, and you start saying them aloud:

  • The name of the product
  • The special introductory offer
  • The “buy” button
  • The main product image
  • Our 5 star rating on Facebook

Notice the look of panic (or disgust) on your web designer’s face. She asked you what the most important element of the page is and you have already listed five different elements of the page.

And that’s the point – when you are creating a web page, or an email, or an ad, or anything else, everything can’t be the most important thing. We have to put the emphasis on one, maybe two things, and let the designers and copywriters do what they do best to highlight those things.

In your mind, you might say, “Well, those are all important.” What you mean is that they are all important to you. Or that you don’t know which ones are more important than the others.

But if everything is important, you end up emphasizing nothing. And then the prospective customer doesn’t know where to look or what to read.

By highlighting what’s important, you guide their thinking, and shuttle them through the purchase funnel.

To get into this new mindset, it helps to pay attention to how other companies emphasize certain things. Look at websites, and billboards, and marketing emails and ask yourself, “what is the most important thing here that the designer/marketer wants me to see?” The answer should be clear. It should jump out at you.

Then ask the same question of your own stuff. Do you notice a difference? How well are you guiding consumers toward those points of emphasis?

Top Web Design Blog Posts

Online marketing starts with your website. And so web design is a crucial part of marketing. While marketers should not be expected to be designers, they need to know enough about what makes design effective in order to set their companies up for success.

We went back over all of our web design blog posts for the past few years and grabbed the ten highest read titles. Here they are:

  1. Mobile First Web Design
  2. 3 Tips for Better Readability
  3. How to Use Design to Guide the Eyes
  4. Top 5 Website Usability Fixes
  5. Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Homepage
  6. Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website into a Conversion Driven Success
  7. Testing Form Fields
  8. 3 Ways to Improve Your Buttons
  9. Limit Your Navigation Options
  10. Designer vs. Marketer

Powerful Web Design Tips to Transform Your Website Into A Conversion Driven Success (Guest Post)

James Robertson is a passionate digital marketing expert who has worked alongside many great companies. He currently writes for CoFlex Marketing and is passionate about helping his clients succeed. In his spare time, he enjoys going to the gym and working out.

Your website, while being your asset in the digital sphere, also forms an essential part of your business strategy. In short, it helps build your brand equity, communicate with your target audience and drives sales.

As a result, driving traffic to your website is an important focus of your marketing efforts. However, traffic alone will not help your business thrive. Sales, the very lifeblood of your organisation, makes the difference between success and failure. And ‘conversion’ is what transforms visitors into revenue. Conversion can mean visitors entering their email address to download an e-book or book a trial of your product, make an enquiry about your offering or buy what you sell. It goes without saying, you must give ‘conversion’ its due importance when you design your website.

4 powerful web design tips to transform your website into a conversion-drive success:

1.       Pay attention to your landing page

When a visitor arrives at your website (via social media, Google search or simply keying in your URL)

  • What does he see first?
  • What is his first impression?
  • Does he know what step to take next?

An effective landing page helps answer these questions. This web page is possibly the most important aspect of your conversions strategy, as it helps the visitor to take the next logical step in the ‘decision to purchase’. Some key factors to consider on your landing page are:

  • Have one single Call to Action that directs the visitor to the next step, rather than confuse him with various messages
  • Go for a full-screen landing page, as it helps hide all the other content of your website which can distract
  • Divide the landing page into 9 squares and place your key message and visual along the center squares (center and left)
  • Clean, crisp copy - Forget about clever wordplay and ensure the copy clearly states the key benefit you offer for the visitor if he chooses to take the next step. Also, the copy must clearly tell him what to do. Never underestimate the power of phrases such as “Buy Now”, “Click Here”. Although they seem simple, they have been tried and tested, and have been proven to work. The world’s best websites have mastered the art of clean copy to drive conversions.
  • Aesthetics - Use an ‘easy on the eye’ color scheme and branding on the landing page. Also, visuals of human faces have been known to help improve conversions.

2.       Don’t give too many options

This may sound counter-intuitive, but think of websites such as Google and Apple. They don’t serve up a plethora of options. They offer limited options on the website, so as not to confuse the visitor with ‘information overload’. When a visitor lands on your site, they think:

  • What do I do next?
  • Where should I click?
  • Should I read all this information or can I skim through?
  • Why are there so many options?
  • How can I finish what I came here for?

With all these questions running through the visitor’s mind, it is your job to make his life easier by gently taking him through with limited options. Unless you’re Amazon or eBay, it’s best to keep one objective for each web page and tailor your content accordingly.

3.       Speed is king

On the road, ‘speed thrills, but kills’. When it comes to your website, speed is of utmost importance. If your website takes ages to load, your audience is going to grow impatient, and within seconds, will switch to another website, often your competitor’s. Studies have shown that website loading speed is directly correlated to conversions. Use the following tips to ensure your website loads fast:

  • Refrain from using extremely heavy content
  • Optimize images based on size and format
  • The number of elements you have on your website result in an equal number of HTTP requests, thus affecting download speed. Lesser the better! This means, less plugins too!
  • Aim for a server response time of less than 200 milliseconds.

The above aspects are of a technical nature. If you are not a competent website developer, don’t cut corners. Hire the best help you can afford to get the job done right.

4.       Write good copy

You wouldn’t believe the number of businesses that overlook the importance of good copy! Don’t fall prey to the notion that users don’t read. Yes, they do skim through, but good, clear engaging copy makes them pay attention. And, take action! From the moment a user lands on your website, your copy must get to work to connect with him. Keep these tips in mind when crafting copy to improve conversions:

  • Use clear headlines that outline the key benefit of your product/service
  • The headline should also tell the user what the page is about
  • Use words such as “YOU” to speak to the user
  • Use a clear Call to Action to tell the user what to do next
  • Don’t write long paragraphs of copy. Keep it scannable by breaking your copy into paragraphs of 4-5 lines maximum. Each paragraph should have one underlying goal or message. It is also a good practice to have sub headings which will help users scan through your copy and gauge what you are trying to say.


We’ve only scratched the surface of web design to transform your website into a conversion driven success. The above 4 tips are a good place to start. Do drop us a line and let us know how they worked for you

Design, Guest Post
guest post, web design, design tips, website

Zach Heller

Simple Website Fixes – Series Recap

Over the last twelve weeks, we have been proud to share a slate of simple website fixes in a series aptly titled, Simple Website Fixes. Alas, the series must now come to an end. But if you missed it, this is your chance to catch up.

Here are all 11 parts for your reading pleasure:

Part 1: Replace Big Blocks of Text with Lists

Part 2: Limit Navigation Options

Part 3: Add an Offer

Part 4: Utilize Site Search

Part 5: Add the Phone Number

Part 6: Shorten Your Forms

Part 7: Add Content

Part 8: Use Buttons

Part 9: Add Video

Part 10: Make Your Site Faster

Part 11: Test with Optimizely

Thanks for reading. And stay tuned next week for the start of a brand new weekly series.

, Recommended Reading
website fixes, web design, conversion rate optimization

Zach Heller