White Space: Less is More

Take a moment and look around you. Check out a magazine, a website or go for a ride. Chances are you won’t be able to look anywhere and not find some sort of advertisement. It’s so rampant these days that we’ve developed a defensive mechanism where we block out the constant assault on our eyes.

Keep this is mind when you’re preparing an idea for your designer or pitching a concept to your client or boss: In a world of information overload Less. Is. More.

Eyes and minds need places to rest. If you provide a simple advertisement you will get more attention because it will be where eyes naturally rest before moving on.

Don’t crowd an ad with text so tight and tiny there’s no white space. It’s distracting and uninviting. Even if you do have 30 services you want to highlight, cut all but five of the strongest for this ad. The best advertisements I’ve seen have actually cut it to just one service – regardless of how much they offer.

Remember an ad is not meant as a brochure or website. There you’d of course want to cover all the programs and benefits you offer. (You’re using a large enough format to still allow white space, right?) An ad should be focused one a single goal. That goal could be a phone call, a website visit, information on a new service or an immediate purchase.

It is not meant to detail the life history of your company.

Designers, be patient with a boss or client that can’t let go of what they feel is vital information. As the expert in the room you’re going to have to guide your fellow project visionaries to this conclusion. Show them a few samplings of crowded ads versus open and focused ads. If you know your audience well, you should be able to guide their choices in the right direction.

Are you the visionary behind a new ad idea? Don’t panic about not getting your full message across. If your ad is focused and memorable you and your team will have plenty of opportunities to show interested prospects the full gamut of your products when they call in to learn more.


Designer Challenge: Collect samples of good and bad advertising so you’re prepared the next time you need to persuade a client or boss to a better, more effective ad concept.

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