Strong opinions, weakly held

Add some white space

New York Times designer Khoi Vinh has a little advice for Google on the use of white space in Web design. I’m linking to it because I think a lot of Web developers would do well by taking it to heart. It is funny to me that all of Google’s applications have that “designed by a programmer” aesthetic. It sort of makes you wonder how Google is utilizing the talents of the brilliant Douglas Bowman.


  1. yeah Khoi’s update is pretty good. I get the vague feeling that design at google is talked about in meetings way to much. A lot of their sites feel like designed by consensus.

    Engineers are smart people but Hacker news has taught me that they tend to be bad designers (nothing but love to hacker news).

  2. All the designers, the paste-up artists, graphic designers, illustrators, animation storymen I used to work with (some from Terrytoons, various NY magazines, etc.) always emphasized the importance of ‘negative space’: the empty space that is not used is just as important as the rest of the design.

    Modern full-screen ‘flexible width’ designs tend to forget that rule … though the idea of ‘limited flex’ to make reading easier is catching on quick.

  3. The problem with most companies is that as soon as designer leaves generous white space, the Marketing Droids and Sales people come along and try to fill it with ads or content.

    Even in print design it’s difficult to get across the point (to the business-oriented people) that white space is needed to balance the content and improve readability and information retention.

  4. Huh, am I the only person who sees Vinh’s design as “pixels just got 50% more expensive”?

    And what’s with the bigger border around the “CNN.com Recently…” block. With that border I read it as a header to the message list, which slows down my page scan considerably.

    Count me as “not a fan”.

    Stefan, if it’s any consolation, I find Hacker news completely unreadable, if only because there’s no indication of why I should care about any of those headlines.

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