Wednesday, March 25, 2015

White Space is Not Dead Space

The popular theory is to cram as much information as possible into the smallest amount of space, whether onto a flyer, an email, or in a conversation. This simply isn't an effective way to communicate.

We feel the need to cram as much information 
as possible into the smallest amount of space.

After reading an article from regarding white space in design, I took it a step further, applying the principles to communication.

The lack of white space obscures information.

White space in design allows you to process and find information because your eye can distinguish and separate the parts from the whole. With no white space, graphics look crowded and unappealing. If you want the viewer to see your information, distill it to the bare minimum.  If you fail to do this, neither you nor the viewer gains. The viewer ignores the graphic due to information overload, rendering it ineffective.

Effective text contains line breaks. Line breaks allow the reader to process portions of text and it prepares readers for a new idea. Text without line breaks is difficult to read. If you want your email read, for example, format it for the viewer. Put your main thought at the beginning, not the end.

Monotone speech patterns make conversation difficult to follow. If a person's voice has little inflection and the speech has no pauses, the information is ignored. If a speaker pauses, the listener notices a change in pace and it keys them in. They listen for the next line, engaged.

The problem in communication is that most people consider white space dead space. In graphics we want to put every piece of information on the page. In text, we include the entire process of how we developed a thought, and in speech that space is filled with "uhms", "ands", & "ahhs". Don't do this. 
Space gives your graphic presence, a line break or a pause signals your information is important. By filling that space, the signal is missed.
Key information is easily identified using white space.

Key a listener to a main point by pausing before a statement. Pause after to allow time to process the point. Too most, white space in conversation seems like an eternity; I assure you it is not. 

You don't need to fill the entire space;
use it effectively.

In graphics, text, or conversation,  You don't need to fill space; use it effectively. Filling a space will cause it to blend in. Contrast piques interest in colors, space, text, or conversation. Catch the eye or ear by using white space to your advantage.
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