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6:11 Use Moderate White Space

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 3 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Page Structure - General


Guideline:

Limit the amount of white space (areas without text, graphics, etc.) on pages that are used for scanning and searching.


Comments:

’Density’ is the percentage of the screen filled with text and graphics. One study found that higher density is related to faster scanning, and has no impact on user accuracy or preference. Another study found that users prefer moderate amounts of white space, but the amount of white space has no impact on their searching performance. On content (i.e., text) pages, use some white space to separate paragraphs. Too much separation of items on webpages may require users to scroll unnecessarily. 


Sources:

  • Chaparro, B.S. & Bernard, M.L. (2001). Finding information on the Web: Does the amount of whitespace really matter? Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Usability Professionals’ Association Conference.
  • Parush, A., Nadir, R., & Shtub, A. (1998). Evaluating the layout of graphical user interface screens: Validation of a numerical computerized model. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 10(4), 343-360.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.
  • Staggers, N. (1993). Impact of screen density on clinical nurses’ computer task performance and subjective screen satisfaction. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 39, 775-792.
  • Tullis, T.S. (1984). Predicting the usability of alphanumeric displays, Doctoral Dissertation, Houston, TX: Rice University.

Good Example:

This page facilitates users’ ability to scan for information by limiting the amount of white space.