The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.
- Mark Twain
Learning to pause
Pauses in speech create emphasis, convey emotion, and allow the listener time to absorb, comprehend and reflect on what's being said.
It's easy to understand the importance of the pause when you think about listening to a poor speaker. Full of stutters, rushed sentences and lots of "um's" and "uh's", it's hard to concentrate on what the person is saying and not the impediments.
Speakers like Steve Jobs learned to hone their diction to great effect. In the video below, Steve allows each sentence to breathe. For a salesman, his speech is far from the slick door-to-door elevator pitches or the sleezey car salesman. Each phrase sinks in with honest, weighty meaning.
We often find ourselves having to explain the concept of white space to clients. In design, white space relates to the negative space around objects or type. Like the use of the pause in speech, white space allows content to breathe.
We would be rich if we had $1 for every time a client asked us to make their logo larger. Counterintuitively, leaving space around an element like a logo, actually creates more emphases than if the logo was larger with less space. The negative space draws your eye to the logo instead of having to compete against other content in close proximity.
When you compare a web design that you like to one you don't, pay attention to the amount of white space. It's a technique you might not immediately notice, but once you do, you'll see it's use or misuse everywhere.
Continuing on the Steve Job's train, look at Apple's website for impeccable use of white space. What better way to convey the weightlessness of an iPad Air?