Monday, September 4, 2006

White space equals more trust?

A new study in the August 2006 Journal of Consumer Research, How Nothing Became Something: White Space, Rhetoric, History, and Meaning, says all that whitespace we‘re seeing in ads, Web sites, and consumer products might be speaking volumes about their creators. (Don‘t bother following the link because unless you have privileged access you can‘t read it.) Here‘s the summary:

In white space, there is a lot more than nothing. Within that framed "nothingness," there are connections to the rise of corporate public relations through "image management." There are connections to a broad social movement against artifice and deception and to a belief that to say less was to say more. There is a connection to a defining epoch in American consumer culture, to a more respectful and elegant commercial rhetoric, and to a fundamentally different style of advertising (Frank 1998), one that still references honesty.

So more whitespace conveys honesty? More respect and less deception? Apparently the less-is-more movement was born as a backlash to the “deceptive, scientistic, authoritative, and aggressively demonstrative” advertisements in the 1950s.

This still holds true today. So Google, del.icio.us, Technorati, and a host of other social networking sites appear to know what they are doing with their minimalist approach to design. If you want people to trust you… give them less.

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