Ask any designer how they feel about white space, and they will most likely tell you they are fans.  “White space calls attention to content, separates it from unrelated content around it, and gives the eye a resting place.”White space may not contain any actual content, but is still a key element to the overall aesthetic of a piece.

Now go out and find a designer at a healthcare advertising agency, and ask them how they feel about white space. Chances are they’ll tell you they miss it, and want more of it. Healthcare advertising makes designers balance a fine line between fitting all the legally-required Important Safety Information and crafting the best possible design. It’s a tough conundrum.

Fortunately, as content is increasingly delivered via digital channels, designers have been winning back some white space. Here are five digital design secrets for crafting clean design for pharma marketing.

1. Embrace the technology

With the advancement and proliferation of tablet devices, many visual aids are moving to a digital format. With this new digital format, designers are able to win back some of their white space. Enter the interactive visual aid (IVA), a digital tool that pharmaceutical representatives use to detail doctors about specific drugs. The IVA can be much more than just a PDF of the print piece running on a tablet. Designers can use the tablet to begin reclaiming their white space and delivering a clean look and feel.

2. Leverage menus

IVAs give designers more options than traditional printed visual aids. A print piece can have restrictions on the number of pages. A booklet with too many pages might seem daunting to the doctor, and would be difficult for the rep to easily find specific content. IVAs can have menus where the rep can pick specific content to discuss, and jump straight to that information. They have a plethora of information at their fingertips, in a manner that is easy to digest.

3. Focus on the user-experience

Focus on the user-experienceWithout restrictions on the number of pages, designers have the freedom to spread out content, and gain back their beloved white space. They can create multiple pages or have scrolling content. The focus becomes less on fitting everything into one page, and more on creating the best experience for the user.

4. Expand/collapse the ISI

A great feature of IVAs is the ability to contain the Important Safety Information in a box that can expand and collapse to show more or less content. This gives the rep easy access to the safety information, but also prevents it from taking up a majority of the page. Once again, this simple but powerful design technique gives designers more space to work with.

5. Embed Layers of Additional Interactivity

Creating well-designed layouts is only one benefit of IVAs. Designers also have the ability to introduce interactive elements. Charts can expand to show more data. There can be 3-D models of drugs or molecules that can rotate 360°. Quizzes can be created to help foster better retention. In fact, by taking advantage of tablet functionality and internet access, designers now have an immense range of options for expanding the customer experience.


IVAs and other digital channels can now provide a blank canvas for designers. These tools provide the ability to re-imagine content in a whole new way. The possibilities for visualizing and creating interactive information are endless. And how much more white space could a designer want than a blank canvas?

This post originally appeared on Results in Action.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a Senior Interactive Designer at Cadient, a Cognizant Company. She has over 7 years of experience in healthcare advertising.... Read more