Chroma Experience

White Space: How emptiness can add a lot to design.

Imagine a comedian who doesn't pause rhetorically before his punchlines. You'll probably find his jokes absolutely unfunny. The same joke, with a planned short pause, seems directly funnier.
It is the same with white space. The same design works better with the right white space than without.

In comedy, by the way, a planned pause is called "comic timing." Music also only works with the right spacing between notes.

What is White Space?

"White Space" is the area between design elements. It is also the space within individual design elements, including the space between typographic glyphs (readable characters).

Despite its name, white space does not have to be white. It can be any color, texture, pattern, or even a background image.

We distinguish between two types of white space. Active and passive white space.

Macro level: Active white space

Active white space refers to the free space between design elements, such as paragraphs or paragraphs. They give structure to the website and evoke harmony among visitors. Asymmetrical divisions on the macro level make the design look more dynamic and organize the user flow.

Micro level: Passive white space

Passive white space is the free space between smaller components such as words and lines, as well as the free space around buttons or logos. Such micro-level adjustments do not make drastic changes to the design. Rather, choosing the right spacing supports the overall look and feel of a website and can improve the user experience by adding small accents.

Where and how to use white space

Using white space for CTAs (Call To Actions)

Always assume that the user doesn't know where he/she should scroll or click next, and design white space accordingly. The idea itself is simple: if there is nothing near a button on a page, it means that this button should be clicked next.

On the other hand, if the page is overlaid with elements near the button, the user would not notice the button properly because of the clutter.

As you can see above, the second CTA is more prone to interactions than the first one because it is not covered by elements all around it.

Use white space for emotional responses

There are many ways to evoke emotions in design, such as typography, colors, and images. While all of these are useful for adding drama, white space can arguably add the most drama and emotion to a page at the lowest design cost.

As seen here, Todoist uses white space around the main header, which in turn draws attention to the background image and thus should convey positive emotions. Additionally, this makes it look more uncluttered and the user is not overwhelmed as to where his/her attention should go first.

Fight the urge to fill in the blanks.

As designers - and as humans in general - we naturally tend to fill spaces with "stuff". When we buy a bigger closet, a bigger garage, or a bigger house, it rarely takes long to fill that new space.

This habit often carries over to our designs as well. Whenever we see an empty space in our design, we think, "What can I add there?". This mindset can be a problem for designers.

Instead of filling your design with elements, you should internalize the "less is more" approach. For example, when you add a CTA, make sure you create a "safe zone" (empty space) around it. Always remember that empty space is not wasted space.

Who uses white space effectively?

Apple is considered the prime example of well-used white space. The products appear even more high-quality and elegant with a lot of white space and draw full attention to the items.

It becomes clear that Apple also relies heavily on active white space in addition to passive white space. Only two elements are directly perceptible (2 IPhone 14). In addition, Apple leaves a lot of space between paragraphs and creates a clear hierarchy together with the font size and colors.

Apple's white space guidelines are not only visible on the website; there is also a lot of free space in the store, in the packaging of the products or in the architecture.


So white space is not always automatically white, but the part in our designs where nothing happens. This is an essential design principle that no designer should overlook, as it determines whether a page is usable well and whether a particular element gets the attention it needs.

We learned that there are two different types of white space (active vs. passive) and two different sizes (micro vs. macro). We looked at benchmark companies in this space that are already using white space effectively.

So always remember, less is often more. Even if the client says otherwise and thinks it is more efficient to overlay the website with information, you should think of the comedian and work with the right white space.

I hope these ideas help you with your next design.