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6:6 Optimize Display Density

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6:6 Optimize Display Density

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Page Structure - General


To facilitate finding target information on a page, create pages that are not too crowded with items of information.


Density can be defined as the number of items per degree of visual angle within a visually distinct group. This density either can be crowded with many items, or sparse with few items. One study found that locating a target in a crowded area took longer than when the target was in a sparse area. Also, participants searched and found items in the sparse areas faster than those in the crowded areas. Participants used fewer fixations per word in the crowded areas, but their fixations were much longer when viewing items in the crowded areas. Finally, participants tended to visit sparse areas before dense groups. To summarize, targets in sparse areas of the display (versus crowded areas) tended to be searched earlier and found faster.


  • Halverson, T. & Hornof, A.J. (2004). Local density guides visual search: Sparse groups are first and faster. Proceedings from the 48th Annual Human Factors and Ergonomics Meeting.

Poor Example:

This page doesn't allow for quick scanning because of it's density.06_06_bad_example

Good Example:

This homepage, though quite dense with information, gives the users eyes a rest with areas of white space.


This page facilitates user's ability to scan for information by limiting the amount of white space.


Other Info:

Guideline 6.11 was merged with this one.

Related Usability Guidelines: