Let your content breathe!

by henry

Today, something completely different is about to start here : talking about design stuff

Yup, I’m self confident enough in my pretented skills to start a discussion about it…

So here I am with a disarmingly common design mistake which really REALLY manage to get on my nerves : I’m talking about spacing here guys !

How come that most of the (young?) designers aren’t able to see that their content is completely eaten, pushed back,  by its surrounding elements. Le me be more precise here…let’s say you’re designing a website for one of your customer and you’re beginning to design the content the way you think it should.

During this long and difficult process, you still might want to insert texts, icons, lines, and so on…in other words : put content in your website…logical…

But it’s often the very beginning of your slow descent to the hell of failed UX websites and unreadable contents. Let’s be clear : I can see, everyday that too many designers would still come with this type of integration for a text

Put it some padding

So what, some may ask?

Well…let’s say that the one thinking he can just push his content on the page as it was some kind of useless junk he had to use because the client intented to, is terribly wrong. The thing is content is the most important part of your page and no design could exist without content! First, i’m not an user experience expert but let’s say that some years working on webdesign taught me a lot of things, and amongst them :

  • There will always be a lot of people who are a lot better than you are,
  • There is still a lot of interesting stuff to learn everyday (and sometimes very far from your computer),
  • Content is one of the most important thing when designing a website

As for the last point, my point is to remind you to treat the content as it IS part of the design and not an obstacle on your way. Webdesign is all about communication and not some art related considerations. You probably have a product / person / activity / whatever it is to present to the outer world. You just have to remember you’re not designing things for you, or for your ego, but for your client needs (well, if you’re working for you, I guess you’ll be more than happy to give an appealing image to your website).

Okay, I recognize I’ve been a little carried away here but this whole thing about “content” is helping me to get to my point : Let your content breathe because it’s part of the design, part of the very final aim of your website : presenting this very same content to the outer world.

Let it breathe

To be clear, when you’re applying for a job, you’re very likely to get your nicest clothes and only wear them if they really fit you.

Nobody would want to see you apply with your socks all discovered by too-short pants. Everything is about harmony here and breaking this harmony will just give just another information about you…And I’m afraid that this first impression about you to your client won’t be as good as it could have been.

When it comes to a website and its content, this is all the same : things at their right place, with their right “strength”

When you begin to stick your text to the borders of your page / block, you’re just taking back all its strength and somehow perhaps its interest and readability.

Leaving space between borders and content is a good way to emphasize the content and to ensure it’s in the best condition to be read, and it’s the same with underlines and titles.

Another example of needed padding

There is a lot more to say here, and I could take an infinity of example but as soon as I got my point, i’ll be happy with that right now.

Some of you may disagree with my way to point and explain things but I dare anyone to challenge me on the importance of white space in any graphic design or webdesign project. White space is the blood which flows in your design body to ensure its heart (the content) will still beat.