It seems we’re always on edge. Not only as a result of our high-anxiety culture but because there is a pervasive idea that everything should be as close to the edge as possible. I don’t know about you but my adrenals can’t take it any more.
There’s one simple way to take the edge off without medication.
Make your margins bigger.
This is a problem I encounter on a daily basis and I find it’s become even worse now that I get most of my info in digital form. Everyone, who is not a designer, seems compelled to put text or images really close to the edge of the page. What you may not realize is this has two undesirable effects.
- It makes the text harder to read.
- It can cause the reader to feel tense for no known reason.
You don’t want your potential clients to feel tense when they visit your website or read your brochure, do you? It’s highly unlikely that’s the reaction you want someone to associate with your brand – tension. Most likely you want people to feel at ease, relaxed and maybe even start to trust you enough to give you their money.
The other night I lay awake trying to think of a business that might actually want to create a sense of unease. The only one I could think would be an S&M retailer. If causing people pain is not your business, start adding some white space by moving your text and images away from the edge. This often requires manually increasing the default margins or borders but all good designers know that the defaults are for people who don’t know what they’re doing. Now that you’ve read this far, you know what you’re doing, right?
Even the template I use for this site had little wee margins that made me uncomfortable. I had to go in and increase them because I didn’t want the site to feel crammed. It’s still not exactly to my liking but then, a designer is never satisfied with their own work, so I’ll actually never be happy with my website. Don’t worry, it’s a normal affliction.
Another great reason to add some padding to your design is to separate yourself visually from everyone else. Defaults are popular and most people use the same ones. If you want to create the impression that you’re not like everyone else, stop using defaults altogether. Unless you are just like everyone else. In that case, carry on. I suspect that by the very virtue of your reading this you are just a little bit different and are looking for an edge. But, the good edge! Not the one everyone places their text on.
I think I have exhausted all of my edge related clichés and it’s time to wrap up. I haven’t been posting much lately because we’ve just moved house – which is always hell – and because I’m working on some big stuff behind the scenes. Like a juicy roast in the slow cooker, it will be worth the wait. Unless you’re a vegetarian.
*NOTE: Sometimes you will see a pro design job with text sitting on the edge (see image above). Remember that this was carefully orchestrated by a professional (hopefully) and was intended to stand out or create unease for the viewer.