W h i t e s p a c e

A List Apart has a great article on Whitespace. Mark Boulton talks both about macro whitespace, or the space used on the page, and micro whitespace, or the space used in between letters. He also covers active and passive whitespace, and how the whitespace gives us the visual clues to determine whether a design is classy or down-market. Design is not what I do for a living — we have folks that are a whole lot more capable than myself at this, but I enjoy trying to analyse the results. Micro and macro white space provide some simple tools with which to explore the IYP world.

Have a look at our recent re-design of goudengids.nl:

Macro whitespace is used to break up the page and my eyes are naturally drawn to the listings. Within the adverts themselves, the font is a little smaller to allow sufficient space between the lines, which makes the listings easier to read more at a glance. Overall, a clean design.

Compare this to telefoongids.nl:

Maybe some of this is so messy because the site just doesn’t work on Mac OS X and Safari. You can see that they have chosen to use more graphical elements such as boxes to split up the listings. This does not work as well. The lack of micro whitespace means that the ads seem crowded.

Compare again to superpages.com:

I find the macro whitespace acceptable: the ratings and reviews are broken out from the listings, although I think the sponsor columns is a little unbalanced. In the listings themselves I would have liked to have seem more use of whitespace to make them a lot more readable.

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