Less is More: the Pitfalls of Information Overload

Everyone has something to say, something to sell, something to share. In an increasingly mobile and web-oriented world, the competition to get your message out there can be fierce. You want to make sure your audience knows everything about how great your product/event/fill-in-the-blank is, but this is what can lead you into one of the most common pitfalls: information overload.  It’s not just bad for marketing, it’s bad for design.

When you want to market something, you want a simple, clear message for your audience; something they can absorb quickly and understand.  When there’s too much information presented, you run the risk of losing their attention, confusing them, and ultimately making your message forgetful and ineffective.

The same principles apply to design.  All too often I see messages that have fallen victim to the “fear of whitespace”.  This simply means if there’s an empty space in a design, then it has to be filled with something.

On the contrary, white space (or “negative” space) can be just as if not more powerful in communicating a message.  There’s a very simple example below:

Check out all this information!  Is your audience really going to put their life on hold to read all of it to get your message?  Doubtful, unless they are looking for it.  But using this to catch the attention of someone who is not looking for it probably isn’t going to bode well for hooking them.

Same message, completely different presentation. Look at all that negative space! Does this have a better chance of hooking your audience? Yes, for several reasons. It’s simple and to the point. Your audience can understand your message in a split second, and you haven’t made them do any extra work hunting for it.

If we want to talk about aesthetics here, then this example is much more engaging for the fact that it communicates visually what the text is spelling out: information overload. The focus is at the bottom of the image, giving it a sense of weight, and the word “overload” is visually overloading the word “information” through placement and type treatment.

Now that you’ve hooked someone with an engaging design, you’ve piqued their curiosity and motivated them to search for more information. Plus, you get the added bonus of a great design which speaks towards your professionalism and credibility.

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