From architecture to websites, minimalism has taken over modern design. We can’t call it a trend – the “art of less” is a longstanding principle (a philosophy, if you will). It has found its place in modern design as a style that values simplicity and seeks to eliminate all elements that don’t have a distinct purpose.
When it comes to designing websites, minimalism goes far beyond its visual appeal. Having eliminated unnecessary visual clutter, these websites are easier to use and maintain, highly flexible for responsive design, and have much faster loading times due to their simplified layouts – the latter being an extremely important factor in improving website performance.
However, it takes true mastery to achieve the right kind of simplicity. There’s a lot that minimalism can teach us about web design, so let’s have a look at the key points.
The most basic elements are powerful visual tools
Minimalist design aims to remove all superfluous decoration. By doing this, the essential elements are artfully emphasized and each creative decision is justified. When designing websites, this means that the color scheme, logos, typography, and even the choice of words can – and should – all be used to create a resounding message.
Also, images themselves get much more gravity, leading designers to opt for carefully chosen hero images and to concentrate on how they complement the other elements. In short, a lot more is done with a lot less.
By turning the focus to the bare essentials, minimalism points web designers into the direction of truly contemplating the role of each element and experimenting with what they can do. As a result, we’ve seen bold typography and serif fonts (which typically weren’t used in minimalist designs previously) make a comeback as some of the biggest graphic design trends in 2018. There’s a lot of focus on typography as a visual element, and minimalist websites are proving how this seemingly simple choice can introduce drama, creativity, and even experimentation.
Simplicity shouldn’t lead to uniformity
When there’s a clear set of principles within a certain style (as there is in minimalism), it can be difficult for designers to maintain authenticity while adhering to them. That’s why you might hear some people saying that many minimalist websites mimic each other, ultimately deeming themselves to become forgettable.
But this shouldn’t be the case. That’s the thing with minimalism – it has many more layers than meets the eye and it can actually provide plenty of space for play.
It’s far from a synonym for simplicity.
And with so many resources available, we can really invest ourselves in it. There are some great examples and practices we can find in the work of the prominent marketing companies whose portfolios show creative takes on the minimalist philosophy. Through the work of successful design companies, we can see how simple elements and their relationships can be manipulated to create something fresh and authentic. The better we understand the breadth of minimalism, the more creative we can get with it.
Source: User experience
Contrast is key to the user experience
Minimalism shows us how the most powerful element is, in fact – no element at all.
By ample use of whitespace (or rather, negative space), designers are able to bring the necessary emphasis to every element of the website – especially the crucial ones, such as the call-to-action button. Negative space provides contrast, which is not only necessary to create a strong (even dramatic) visual effect, but also to improve readability and guide the viewer’s focus.
We’ve moved a long way from overwhelmingly cluttered websites that made navigation confusing for users – and we’re still learning. User experience (UX) is the buzzword of website design nowadays, and following the core principle of minimalism has helped direct the focus to intuitive design.
It takes skill to avoid hidden complexity
One of the major problems web designers face when striving for minimalism is that they eliminate too much. The finished product either looks unfinished or it ends up confusing the users, making navigation unclear and unintuitive.
Source: User experience
The latter is definitely the worst option. For example, you’ll find websites with hidden menus that might look awfully cool and sleek, but frustrate the users, who’ll feel like they have to jump through hoops just to find the information they came for. These types of websites, although they may seem minimalist at first glance, actually miss the message that minimalism seeks to convey: good design improves usability and even brings pleasure to simple tasks.
Overall, minimalism teaches us to focus on the very essence. It shows that web design serves to reach out to users, and in doing so, it needs to be straightforward. Just like all other forms of design, web design is also about communication. Communication requires simplicity and plenty of thought in order to be effective – and this is something that minimalism expresses at its core.