Physician, Heal Thyself! – White Space Perceived as ‘End of Page’

Sometimes, you need to take a step back to notice problems that you could avoid by following your own advice! In my case, I’ve been working away on this web site for a few days, ensuring that top tasks and questions any potential client might have are easily answered. And during that time, I missed something- something that we always advise our clients to avoid on a web page design!

Design issue:  horizontal white space cutting all the way across your home or landing page at or near the ‘fold line’ ( in our case, at 768 pixels).

Resulting usability problem: the empty space is perceived by the visitor as ‘the end of the page’ and they don’t scroll down to see something important for their task – in our case, the contact info in the footer (getting contact info is a top task on our site). While some web designers might think the scroll bar is a very visual cue that there is more below, our own usability testing evidence suggests otherwise. We’ve seen people abandon pages and fail to complete their task because of this ’empty white line’.

Solution: break up the white line! Some element on the page should drop down through it to allow the gaze of the visitor to continue downwards rather than stopping at a perceived page end.

Why didn’t I see it sooner? Well, because I’m not working from a laptop – I have two lovely large monitors. And that’s another thing we advise our clients: “You are not your user!”,   Finally, I resized my browser page to laptop size to have a look,  and there it was – a WHITE LINE on our home page, right where the bottom of the page would show up to a laptop user!  If you are reading this and it’s still there (right above the client logos), rest assured we’re in the process of repairing it! -Lisa

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One Response to Physician, Heal Thyself! – White Space Perceived as ‘End of Page’

  1. Scott Smith says:

    Good points Lisa. The fold and the perceived end of page keeps changing with more and more mobile devices.

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