“Space, the final frontier”, the words were spoken by Captain Kirk on the sci-fi show Star Trek. Space is something pretty big, and for web designers, just about every successful design comes down to how space is utilized. How does one conquer space, and is there such a thing as a perfect use of it when designing a website?
The great “Space Spectrum” is divided into two polarized opposites: Clutter vs. Emptiness. Is there a perfect medium, where a page is neither too cluttered or too empty? Or is so much of the spectrum dependent on the content being featured? Thereby, affording no perfect medium but relying on circumstances to define the use of space.
We’ll start with clutter, as there are plenty of websites out there which fill their pages to the brim. Many believe this problem to be only attached to new designers, but there are plenty of established sites which are filled with clutter.
RottenTomatoes is one of my favorites sites on the internet, but if I had to break it down in terms of design it would not receive a passing grade. There is no empty space for one to rest their eyes when utilizing RottenTomatoes. Especially if we’re only looking at content above the fold.
However, RottenTomatoes has an excuse for all the clutter. Their site is based around cataloguing and reviewing movies from all around the world. There really is no space which can be used as a break for the eyes. It can be annoying, but for whatever reason they’ve decided to sacrifice design for the wealth of content.
If we’re looking for a similar site to RottenTomatoes, which features the same amount of content but feels less busy we can look to IMDB.com. While there is a lot of content to be found, the design allows for more breaks in the action and it feels much less busy when navigating on page.
Empty space is a tool which if mastered can make you one of the best designers out there. In fact, many of the best designers will utilize negative space to enhance content on the page. However, if utilized incorrectly you’re simply left with an empty looking site.
Like stated previously, use of empty space is heavily determined by the amount, and type of content being utilized on the page. There are certain cases when utilizing more empty space is beneficial to the content you’re presenting. The best cases of this occurring can be found on movie trailer websites. If you visit the Thor movie’s website, you’ll see a ton of negative space on the page. The page layout allows users to only focus on the few things that truly matter.
In the great divide between cluttered and empty, it all comes down to the message you’re trying to convey. There is no right or wrong answer, but simply a matter of perspective.