It seems odd that so many graphic designers seem a little scared of nothing. You receive a marketing email, or visit a website, that is so cluttered that you don’t know where to look first.
Email marketing requires control. We need to direct the eye in those few seconds we have to get our message across. If a customer has to search for the pitch, they’ll go elsewhere.
There are three main aspects of a marketing email: text, images and the space between them; the last is known as white space, or sometimes negative space. No one aspect is more important than the other, and too much of one will reduce the effectiveness of the message.
White space is a difficult concept to accept as it appears to be nothing; which is just what it is. However, it is multi-tasking at its best. It can frame an image more effectively than a black border. It can designate a more important image or text just by being there. It can direct the eye in a subtle and therefore irresistible way.
There are a number of ways of viewing white space. It can be a scaffolding to hang the text and images from. It can be an effective buffer to stop adjacent items bumping into one another. It can regulate the way a person reads a marketing email as well as designating when one aspect ends and another begins.
It does all this, and more, merely by being there, or not, depending on your point of view. Its main strength is that it is effective because it is neither apparent nor distracting. It can be subtle, such as paragraph spacing, or crude and obvious, as in the way that the search box in Google is isolated by being the only item on the page.
White space is the most difficult of the big three aspects of a marketing email to master. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is free. It requires a great deal of thought and effort to get the best from it.
There is more to white space than meets the eye.