Can customizable spacing settings improve user experience?


Yes, customizable spacing settings can significantly improve user experience. Allowing users to adjust line height, paragraph spacing, letter spacing, and word spacing enhances readability and accessibility, particularly for those with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities. This flexibility aligns with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), making interfaces more adaptable to various screen sizes and user preferences. Products like Pocket demonstrate how customizable spacing can increase user satisfaction by offering control over reading comfort. Implementing such features thoughtfully can lead to better usability, higher user engagement, and a more personalized experience.

Detailed answer

Absolutely! We can allow users to tailor text style properties such as line height, paragraph spacing, letter spacing, and word spacing to their preferences and needs. This option can greatly enhance the readability, accessibility, and adaptability of the content, resulting in better usability and higher user satisfaction. Let's take a closer look:

Readability: Adjustable line height, letter spacing, and word spacing allow users to optimize the text for their reading comfort. This is particularly important for users with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities who may require more space between lines or words to process the information effectively.

Good and bad examples of the line spacing.


Accessibility: Customizable spacing aligns with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by accommodating a wider range of user needs. Users can increase the space between interactive elements, making it easier to accurately click or tap on the desired target, especially on smaller screens.

Adaptability: Customization options ensure your interface can comfortably suit a variety of screen sizes and user preferences without compromising the intended design structure.

Example layouts adapting to the Dynamic Type.


Visual hierarchy: By enabling users to control the margins and padding around elements, you can maintain a clear visual hierarchy even when spacing is adjusted. 

User satisfaction: Giving users the ability to personalize their experience demonstrates a commitment to their preferences and needs. This level of control can lead to increased user satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty, as users feel more comfortable and empowered while interacting with the application.

Pocket, a popular read-it-later app, is known for its customizable reading experience. It allows users to modify line height, adjusting the vertical space between text lines. Additionally, users can adjust margins to control the amount of text per line and the space between the text and the screen edges. Pocket also provides options to change fonts and text sizes. With its array of other user-centric features, it is an excellent tool for those seeking inspiration.

Pocket's feature to customize font and spacing.


When implementing customizable spacing, it's essential to consider the specific needs and characteristics of your target audience. Business applications often involve complex data, forms, and workflows, so striking a balance between flexibility and maintaining a consistent, professional design is crucial.

Related reading: Text Spacing (Level AA) by WCAG 2.1 

Actionable steps

1.Analyze user needs: Begin by identifying potential user groups who might benefit from spacing adjustments.

  • Do you have users with visual impairments or cognitive differences?
  • Are some users working on smaller screens or specific devices?

2.Identify key areas: Determine the elements and sections of your application where customizable spacing would have the most significant impact on readability, accessibility, and usability. Focus on areas with dense information, forms, tables, or interactive components.

3.Define a range of spacing options: Establish a set of predefined spacing options that users can choose from, such as "compact," "default," and "expanded." This allows for flexibility while maintaining a consistent design language across the application. This how a Gmail client implemented this feature:

 A screenshot of the Gmail account where with a feature to customize UI density.


4.Provide intuitive controls: Implement user-friendly controls for adjusting spacing, such as buttons, dropdowns, or sliders. Ensure that these controls are easily discoverable and accessible, with clear labels and tooltips to guide users. Look at the example of such settings in an accessibility plugin:

A screenshot of the interface that offers accessibility menu where a user can customize spaicng.

5.Test with diverse users: Conduct usability testing with a diverse range of users, including those with disabilities, to gather feedback on the effectiveness and usability of the customizable spacing feature. Iterate and refine based on their input to ensure an inclusive and optimal experience.

6.Monitor and analyze usage: Track how users interact with the customizable spacing feature using analytics and user feedback. This data can provide valuable insights into user preferences and help inform future design decisions and improvements.

❓Questions designers should ask themselves

By asking the right questions, designers can question their decisions, find areas to improve, make sure nothing is overlooked, and reduce mistakes, leading to better, more thoughtful designs.

  • Who are the primary users of the application, and what are their specific needs and preferences regarding spacing?
  • Which elements and sections of the application would benefit most from customizable spacing options?
  • How can we provide intuitive and accessible controls for adjusting spacing without overwhelming users with too many choices?
  • What are the optimal default spacing values that cater to the majority of users while still allowing for flexibility?
  • How can we ensure that customizable spacing doesn't break the overall layout and visual hierarchy of the interface?

⚠️ Common mistakes to avoid

Learning from your mistakes is important, but many problems can indeed be predicted and avoided. Based on Cieden's collective expertise, we're sharing the most common ones.

  • Providing overchoice (too many options), which can overwhelm users, leading to decision fatigue and confusion.
  • Implementing customizable spacing controls that are hidden or difficult to discover and access.
  • Allowing users to adjust spacing to extremes that compromise the readability and usability of the interface.
  • Neglecting to test the customizable spacing feature with a diverse range of users, including those with disabilities.
  • Failing to provide clear instructions or visual cues to help users understand the impact of their spacing adjustments.

👥 How to convince stakeholders

One of the most crucial skills for a designer is being able to explain and back up their ideas. If you're having a hard time convincing stakeholders, take a look at our tips to help you communicate better.

  • Highlight how customizable spacing aligns with accessibility guidelines and demonstrates a commitment to inclusive design. This can help the organization meet legal requirements and avoid potential lawsuits.
  • Present user feedback and survey results that indicate a desire for personalization options. Emphasize how giving users control over their experience can lead to increased engagement, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Conduct a competitive analysis to showcase how other applications are incorporating customizable spacing and the positive reception from their users. Position the implementation of this feature as a way to stay ahead of the curve and differentiate the product in the market.
  • Use analytics and user behavior data to demonstrate the potential impact of customizable spacing on key metrics such as time spent on the application, task completion rates, and user retention.

Grow the language, communication, persuasion, and sales capability necessary to influence others with your ideas and get buy-in for your initiatives.

Pro tip: Data becomes much more compelling when woven into a narrative. Create a compelling story that highlights the problem, your proposed solution, and the positive outcomes driven by your design. Illustrate how the data validates the effectiveness of your solution and how it aligns with the stakeholders' goals.

📚 Keep exploring 

Never stop growing. Explore resources thoughtfully handpicked by Cieden’s designers. 

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