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I'm facing an issue with a wizard import system. The content of each screen in the wizard varies to the tune of creating white spaces as big as 300px by 300px. A stakeholder thinks this is too much white space. Any recommendations on dealing with wizard screens with wildly different amounts of content?

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Not a direct answer, so putting this as a comment ... perhaps your problem isn't the whitespace around the small pages, but that the large pages are too large. –  Bevan Sep 10 '12 at 0:16
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Quite abstract question, so the answer also would be quite abstract. If by all means it is impossible reorganize content and separate it to relatively equal parts, the you can do following (one approach or combined):

  • play with dimensions, font-sizes, margins and paddings can help you to mitigate the problem. Look carefully to your layout. Try to play with above-mentioned params. You've mentioned 300px-wide gaps. Imagine you have 4 inputs (or whatever homogenous) on "small" screen - that means that adding 10px padding will increase total rect height at 40px. But, I repeat, you should play with this values, the key axiom - wizard screens should not looks different, this axiom should be hold.
  • play with vertical alignment of whole content block (I've mentioned this just in case you for some reasons not centering content)
  • Try to mask, to camouflage, to rethink the screen wizard metaphor itself. For example, just don't scroll/switch to new screen till you have space left. Just add new content on the canvas available space after previous segment is submitted.
  • Try to fill gaps with some informative/illustrative blocks, which would distract users attention from the fact you've just don't know what to do with this god damn gaps ;)
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Thanks, shabunc. Lots of great ideas here. The wizard flows really well, from a usability standpoint, but some of the screens are just huge. Gotta please the stakeholders. :-) –  Joel Garfield Dec 7 '11 at 21:37
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