In gmail, the contents of the page is beautifully laid out with regards to how big the browser window is. There are three modes: Comfortable, Cozy, and Compact. There is a menu for switching manually, but otherwise it switches for you, intelligently.

Display Density

My question is: What are the accepted terms for this behavior? I call it "Space conciousness". In the menu in Gmail they call it "Display Density".

I am implementing this behaviour in some products of our own. But with the terms as general as above, I have a hard time finding discussions about it on forums like these.

1 Answer 1


When Google blogged about the changes with respect to responsive design and the display density the title of the article was Changing information density in Gmail’s new look

Information density seems about the best description to me.

Here's a section from the article above

We also thought quite a bit about the density of the information on the screen in the new design. Gmail’s old design packs a huge amount of information into a small space. While this is perfect for some, many people appreciate a more airy design with more whitespace between lines and elements on the page. This is especially true on larger monitors.

We wanted Gmail to be more attractive and easier to read by default, so if you’re on a larger monitor you will see that the items in your inbox are spaced farther apart than they were in the old design. We believe that this results in a better overall experience, but it does take some getting used to. In our internal testing we found that most of us adjusted to the new spacing after about a week and found the old spacing cramped and uncomfortable when they looked back at the old design.

Others, however, found the original spacing to be ideal and wanted to see as much information as possible without scrolling, even on a large monitor. We added a density setting to the gear menu in the toolbar to make sure that everybody can find a setting that works for them: Comfortable, Cozy, or Compact.

  • That would make the behaviour of changing it with regards to available area to be called "Changing information density".
    – JOG
    Feb 24, 2012 at 11:29
  • "Adaptive spacing" or "adaptive density" perhaps.
    – JOG
    Apr 3, 2012 at 20:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.