Google’s Newly Discovered Friend: White Space
by Damian Madray on July 7th, 2011 in Design
Nothing thrills (slight exaggeration) me more than to see a large organization, aside from Apple, employing good design. While good design is subjective, I would argue anyone on the merits of Google’s vastly improved design applied through their applications. It’s not just about design but about consistency and the elegance that can create.
Google’s consistency is about to become blatantly obvious with Gmail’s new look. And with this new look, it’s obvious that Google’s new best friend is white space. I’ve been noticing in the search results, G+ and other assets how white space is carefully being used to create what we call minimalistic.
I think Gmail took a page from Helvetimail, a Firefox, Chrome and Safari extension that gave Gmail that minimalistic look. I never used Helvetimail because I thought it was worse that Gmail’s original design. WTF? Yea, Yea, I know, I must be crazy to say that but simply making everything white did not make Helvetimail better than Gmail. There were no lines and the leading was too little making legibility worse rather than improved. Many went GaGa for it because it fell into what we call minimalism.
If it’s so bad, why did Gmail borrow from it? Well, it was elegant and the appearance of it being so clean was and is refreshing. Google took that one good element from it and improved. The leading (or rows) are now much taller, allowing negative space to run between these lines of words. This makes it easier for your eyes to look at it and read, in other words, improved legibility.
I love the 1px line Google has been using consistently. This is a big deal for Google, a company who usually don’t do with graphics. But this line has been popping up everywhere, from the search results page, to G+ and now perfectly implemented on Gmail. The thing about 1px line is to make them there but not there.
My one complaint is when e-mails are unread, a vertical 1px line would be nice to give some separation. I’m 100% Google experimented with this and the conclusion is that it was unnecessary clutter. However, us Westerners read left to right so every time one might be starting from the left column. If there was a line there, then that’s less likely the case.
I prefer the vertical line in this last image, it gives a little more structure and creates visual pathway for the eyes instead of making it seem like a sea of text and space. Overall, I’m happy to be in Gmail again. How about you? Are you liking the new Gmail?