Horror Vacui, the fear of white space

The UX Alphabet is a curated series of UX concepts and their descriptions. The goal of this series is to help readers gain a better understanding of terminology used in the field of UX and to help expand their knowledge.

When I started out as a designer, as soon as I would hear this phrase, all time would come to a screeching halt. I would roll my eyes in disbelief. Yes, there would be some internal cursing and disbelief in what I had just heard. I would then begrudgingly appease the stakeholder by filling all the white space with unnecessary content and end up hating the design and my life. I would think to myself, there goes another design I can’t be proud of. Does this sound familiar?

You might have seen The Oatmeal comic, “How A Web Design Goes Straight To Hell”. It’s the one where a bright eyed designer is excited about redesigning a website. Slowly but surely the client keeps asking for minor changes that take the redesign straight to hell. “There is too much white space.” is just an indirect request that adds to the demise of the designer. What makes this a sad yet hilarious comic is that the statement about having too much white space usually is the precursor to a website going straight to hell. Other statements such as, “Can you make it pop?”, “Make the logo bigger”, and “I don’t like blue” all speed up the process of a design going to hell.

The UX Alphabet is a curated series of UX concepts and their descriptions. The goal of this series is to help readers gain a better understanding of terminology used in the field of UX and to help expand their knowledge.

When I started out as a designer, as soon as I would hear this phrase, all time would come to a screeching halt. I would roll my eyes in disbelief. Yes, there would be some internal cursing and disbelief in what I had just heard. I would then begrudgingly appease the stakeholder by filling all the white space with unnecessary content and end up hating the design and my life. I would think to myself, there goes another design I can’t be proud of. Does this sound familiar?

You might have seen The Oatmeal comic, “How A Web Design Goes Straight To Hell”. It’s the one where a bright eyed designer is excited about redesigning a website. Slowly but surely the client keeps asking for minor changes that take the redesign straight to hell. “There is too much white space.” is just an indirect request that adds to the demise of the designer. What makes this a sad yet hilarious comic is that the statement about having too much white space usually is the precursor to a website going straight to hell. Other statements such as, “Can you make it pop?”, “Make the logo bigger”, and “I don’t like blue” all speed up the process of a design going to hell.

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