Cutting through the fluff shows confidence in your product and assures your customers that they're in good hands. Apple, for example, gets to the point right away on their website:
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this page is the amount of whitespace around the headline and image.
Whitespace is an invisible force that tells you where to look: It's the empty space (or negative space) that organizes and accentuates the real points of focus. Despite having "white" in the name, whitespace can be any color, pattern or image that serves as the backdrop to the main content. Although whitespace is always the supporting actor—the Joe Pesci to your Robert De Niro, the Rosie O'Donnell to your Meg Ryan—it plays a crucial role in your site's success.
Whitespace: What is it good for? (It's absolutely nothing!)
Whitespace helps improve UX by increasing site readability and comprehension. It can be used to cluster some elements together and others far apart, which helps users immediately recognize, say, a series of closely set rectangles as a signup form.
Whitespace not only draws the eye to points of focus but also creates visual hierarchy within those points. This helps you communicate a clear value proposition within the precious seconds you have before users leave a page, while the whitespace surrounding a "Buy Now" button, for example, quickly draws attention to the action you want users to take.
Whitespace is particularly important on the homepage, which needs to convey a strong message to customers about your brand and product and convince them to continue through your site. Let's study an example from Basecamp, one of the most successful companies in project and business management software, to see how their homepage evolved over time and the role that whitespace played in defining their brand identity and product offerings.
Case study: Basecamp
In 2004, the company known as 37signals released Basecamp, a collaboration software tool for small businesses.
Here's what the site looked like back then:
There wasn't a lot of whitespace to go around, but behind the scenes, cofounders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson had a mutual desire to keep software simple.
Jump ahead two years. 37signals developed more specialized tools and features to help business teams accomplish their day-to-day tasks. As their product selection grew during this period, the homepage incorporated more whitespace to distinguish their offerings at a glance.
By 2012, Basecamp gradually pared down their tools to their top three. The website for this transitional phase became more simple and clear, thanks to increased whitespace.
In 2014, the company decided to focus only on their original, most profitable product: Basecamp itself. By this time over 15 million people had Basecamp accounts, with the customer base growing at a rate of around 6,000 new companies a week. That brings us to today, this is what the homepage looks like now:
After 18 years, Basecamp's commitment to creating simple software shines through on its homepage more clearly than ever. The use of whitespace reflects the evolution of Basecamp's products and acts as a visual cue to the easy, frictionless UX users can expect from them.
Reading between the lines for your CX
Whitespace highlights what's important on a site. It amplifies the signal and reduces the noise to ensure your message is heard loud and clear. It's an element of successful web design and a trend in CX that's here to stay.