White Space

White Space
Photo by Robin Schreiner / Unsplash

A designer once showed me that the more white space that’s used in a layout, the more luxurious and spacious it feels.

But when you try to cram too much information it, it will start to feel crowded and anxious.

There’s always the temptation to add more information (or features, or other stuff). But each piece we add takes away something from what was already there. The art of paring things down to their essence takes more work. It reminds us of Mark Twain’s famous quote, “I apologize for such a long letter — I didn't have time to write a short one.”

Leaving white space does not simply mean having less on the page or screen. It forces you to decide what is most essential. And then, what is most essential about that, and so on. More work on your end; less on your reader’s (or customer’s).

The work of paring things down to their essence is very kind to the recipient. But it also asks us to understand what they want.

What is left over is the most essential. How refreshing. The quantity of space around that one thing that matters most is refreshing and clarifying. Now we have room to appreciate it so much more.

In a world of chaos and overload, white space becomes a respite.

When I make websites for people, I often hear the same: “I want a design that looks clean.” What did they mean by that? What I finally concluded was, they want a design with lots of white space, where only the most important things were left on the page. They don’t usually know the work it takes to make something that’s so simple, but they know what it feels like, and they want to give that to others.

We can extend this idea to the spaciousness we create in so many ways. In our establishments, for example. A while ago, I visited the famed Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco for the first time. As you walk into the lobby, the grandeur and spaciousness grants you a sense of elevation. There’s plenty of room for everything to occur. Plenty of breathing room. Lots of opulence.

When we are with people, we can be spacious. Or we can feel impatient and anxious, waiting to get to the next task. When we can be spacious with others, it transmits to them; they will feel it. And they will associate this feeling with your brand. A calm, good sensation.

You can apply this to your retail shop, your online shop, or your consulting business. Creating thoughtful, clear categories that will make sense to a visitor is a way of considering them. Of paring everything down, and helping them make clear choices.

Putting away our phone when we speak with someone gives greater spaciousness around them, giving them our full attention. Letting our day go, and being with them.

When you meditate or just remain calm, you will broadcast more spaciousness. When you get enough sleep — more spaciousness. It can be a quality that is a gift to everyone.