"The effect of empty space" or luxury from nothing

    Recently, among a huge amount of material about design and its concepts, two interesting studies have come to my eyes that have highlighted the effect of the same effect in retail and electronic commerce.

    The first study was conducted in 2005. Its author, Dimitri Mortelmans, studied the relationship between storefront design and customer perception. In particular, the author points out that elite boutiques and shops manage to create a feeling of luxury in their expositions, due to the competent use of empty space in window dressing and exhibition halls.

    As a vivid example, the author cites an advertising concept from Parker (a black-and-white image is taken from the description of the study, but it can be argued that Parker retained this concept to this day, i.e. for 10 years).

    Example 1
    Example 2 A

    second study was conducted in 2013. During the experiment, statistics were collected on how the use of empty space in the design of an online store affects the valuation of goods by a visitor.


    Volunteer team was invited to conduct the study. Two facts cause some subjectivity in relation to the results:

    - a small control group (108 people);
    - the group was assembled from representatives of one social environment (students studying psychology).

    And if the first fact is leveled by an article published in 2007, the second problem is not described by the authors.

    During the experiment, the volunteer group was divided into two control groups (A and B), each of which was demonstrated by several models of chairs in the online store. 20 groups of images were prepared, each of which included the same model, made in different colors. Images had a size of 300X300.

    Each of the 20 groups of images had three options for implementation, which differed in the distance between the images (40, 80, and 120 px). As a result, 60 groups of pictures were demonstrated to each participant in the control group.

    Group A was shown two images of armchairs, the total area of ​​empty space was 754.875 px2.

    Group B already evaluated three chairs, while the white background occupied 664, 875 px2.

    Volunteers had to evaluate the cost of each model in the range from 100 to 900 dollars.


    During the experiment, data were obtained on the basis of which it can be argued that there is an optimal combination of the total area of ​​empty space in the design and the distance between its elements. In this case, images of furniture.

    Option B with less free space exceeds option A by an average of $ 15. This suggests that the excessive emptiness of the design creates the feeling that the store is empty and leads to a decrease in the level of subjective assessment of each individual product.

    At the same time, the same models were rated higher due to the increased space between images. Moreover, the effect of increasing 80 pixels to 120 is much higher than the effect of 40 - 80.

    It might seem that it made sense to study at least one more design option, where the total free space would be less than in option B, but this is not so. Based on the data obtained, it is logical to assume that a decrease in the total free space will lead to a decrease in the indentation between the objects and will lead to a decrease in the assessment level of the presented models. The same logic eliminates the need for an experiment with large distances between objects, which will increase the total free space and reduce the number of objects that can be placed on the screen.

    Gender refinement

    Despite some fluctuations in the “female” results, it is obvious that option B with a distance of 120 pixels between objects is optimal. At the same time, if you do not specialize in specific products for women, then it is likely that two of the three buyers are men (the graph shows data on the frequency of online purchases made by representatives of different sexes):


    To create a favorable environment for the image of the product, you need to choose the optimal ratio between the total free space and the distance between objects. Simplistically, this ratio can be described as medium-sized images surrounded by indents of 100-120 pixels (about a third of the image size).

    At the same time, excessive space, significantly exceeding the total area of ​​the images, creates the effect of emptiness, and excessive crowding - the feeling of a flea market. Both of these factors lead to a decrease in the subjective level of assessment of the goods presented.

    Do not let your horror vacui take your money!

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