Yes, whitespace. It’s there, it’s available, and for many companies, the temptation to fill it with every design element imaginable is irresistible.
The thing is, though, that if we want to have a website that really, truly attracts the public eye, then we need to resist this urge to be noisy. The reason that whitespace is beautiful is because of its sheer simplicity. Think about how much noise you encounter on a daily basis. You are constantly bombarded with advertising, and your commute is far from silent: Either you fill that silence with music, or traffic noise drowns out even the thoughts in your head.
Whitespace represents silence. Do you remember the last time that you had a moment of pure, unadulterated silence? I bet it freaked you out at first. We’re not used to it in America. Yet, once we find ourselves in it, the world suddenly seems just a little bit noisier when the silence ends.
Marketing is so much about noise that I think what is forgotten is just how precious a commodity silence is. It speaks volumes to your customers when you turn down the volume, and whitespace is the web design equivalent of turning down the volume.
It’s why it is something of a fad right now, with everybody seeking to emulate Apple. However, the reason whitespace worked for Apple is much simpler than a mere trick of design.
Whitespace gives people think space. That means that a company that uses whitespace takes a risk that the customer will decide that they either don’t need what the company offers, or would prefer to get it somewhere else. It represents the low-pressure salesperson in the online world.
That is what makes whitespace so beautiful.