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How can I defend and/or encourage white space as an effective design element?

At the company where I work, every day, there are discussions about "how to fill the screen" in our applications.

I always position myself in favor of minimalism, keeping places blank to focus the user to the actual contents of the application.

In contrast, some coworkers say that the application ends up being too "empty" and too "white" and that the customer will not want to pay for something "empty", and always insist to put shadows everywhere, logos and pictures in various places and etc... This, in addition to polluting the application, use the valuable space on the user's screen with useless information.

It is noteworthy that make Web applications (RIA), and that usability is critical for everyone here, however, not everyone has the same concept of usability here, that's a problem.

So I'd like to know which option is best, and if possible, a good reference for or against it.


White spaces to help clean up the page, separating their best items. We can shrink the white space to group items, and increase them to separate them from other items in a page, showing a relationship between them or to create a hierarchy among the elements of a page.

Blanks help to make content easier to read

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Sufficient white space is absolutely necessary for a good user experience. It allows to separate unrelated elements without adding other visual cues, such as borders. The less white space there is on a screen the busier the content looks and the harder it becomes to find the necessary section as the brain treats everything as one.

If the guys who want to fill the screen as much as possible have their way, you'll end up with an app that looks similarly to this one:

crammed interface


Since some people commented here & in chat that the original screenshot suffered from more than just a lack of white space, here's a better example of a well-organize but poorly-distributed interface:

not enough white space

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    To be fair, whitespace is the least of that form's problems...there's no apparent visual hierarchy whatsoever... – Ben Brocka Jan 16 '12 at 15:47
  • I understand. But, isnt there a good reference, like Pressman or someone, that I could use? – caarlos0 Jan 16 '12 at 15:50
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    True, but this form isn't laid out properly such that whitespace alone could save it. It certainly needs it though. – Ben Brocka Jan 16 '12 at 15:52
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    @caarlos0: This article should do it (plenty of analogies, photos, and screenshots): Using White Space (or Negative Space) in Your Designs – dnbrv Jan 16 '12 at 15:53
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    Ironically, this screen shot was used in a post to support client preference(which doesn't always favor white space). That being said, white space is incredibly important. This screen shot just doesn't support that argument very well, as it has all sorts of other problems. – Matt Rockwell Jan 16 '12 at 15:54

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