In a world where everything is possible in design, there’s a tendency by designers to put the colors and shapes in the forefront. While the use of both elements in design is integral in making a more indelible impact to your consumers with your product, using both can be counterproductive if not used the right way.
This is true when it comes to developing websites. Since the focus of a website or blog is always on the content, its design can detract from being able to communicate ideas. Using too much color and graphics as your design will cause the site to load slower, which can result to visitors bouncing away from your site instead of browsing through it.
This is where minimalist design comes in. The design philosophy behind minimalism is “less is more,” a phrase that originally appeared in a Robert Browning poem “The Faultless Painter” (1855) and was adopted by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the 1960s.
Why minimalist design for your website?
What minimalist design really does is not designing less, but designing smarter – it brings back content to the forefront by letting it do the talking while limiting the use of colors and shapes. This way, the message of the website becomes much clearer to visitors.
Aside from this glaring benefit, another advantage that your website will gain when following this type of design philosophy is faster loading time. The longer your site loads, the more chances visitors will abandon your site before it finishes loading up. If your site loads for more than four seconds, expect at least 25% of your visitors to have left already. With minimalist design, the limited use of site elements helps in making the site load faster. This means more chances for your visitors to browse your website content.
There are different ways on how you can approach this type of design for your website. Below are two websites examples that best display the principles of minimalist website design. Use these to brainstorm for ideas and inspiration for your own website.
The use of black and white as your color scheme is a popular minimalist design practice. The absence of other colors allows all your site elements to receive equal treatment in the eyes of visitors. Since all colors are either black or white, no particular element will steal the attention from visitors.
The use of white space is also an integral design practice observed in minimalism. Elements should never be crammed in a web page. Instead, they must be reasonably spread out in a page so that each element is made much more visible to visitors. When used correctly, white space lends to the site’s elegance because it builds on the design integrity by using the organic space of the layout as a design element in its own.
It is possible for minimalist design to achieve a sophisticated feel for your websites. The problem that designers may have with this type of design is the limited approach to design which can render similar appearances to different websites. However, the example above by developer Guillaume Juvent should debunk this myth. Aside from the clean and fresh look in his website, he makes use of horizontal scroll to feature his skills and services. As a result, he was able to create a visually appealing and memorable website despite its minimalist design.
Another principle of minimalist design is the limited use of web copy. As mentioned earlier, it lets the content do the talking. Using the same example above, Guillaume develops and designs website. But instead of immediately using common features to showcase his skills (testimonials from clients, actual website design, etc.), he first shows the dynamic image of a conveyor belt processing code and another icon to produce a website. Below is a static version of the image just so you can get an idea:
While this can be perceived as a simple design component, it adds to the overall experience of minimalist design. Instead of using words to communicate his ideas, Guillaume used images instead to not only make the message more provocative, but also showcase his abilities by creating a content as part of the design.
Typography is another quality of design that helps push the envelope of minimalism in websites. Despite the rise of visual content as a medium to help cross ideas from one person to another online, typography as design element eschews this notion. In the example above, The DECK does away with images to produce an equally compelling and beautiful web design. In its place, the creative ad network site makes use of different typefaces and font sizes to feature the hierarchy of information found in the page. To help make the information much more digestible is the diligent use of white space, which also helps avoid the content to look like an unreadable wall of text.
One thing to remember when applying typography to your web design is the ratio of the font’s size to the width where it will be featured. Readability and elegance is predicated by meeting both typography elements for your design. A tool that can help you determine this is Pearsonified’s Golden Ratio Typography, which helps you determine the best font size, typeface, CPL (characters per line), and width size for your web. Following this will make your website much more attractive to visitors.
Final thoughts: The post should help you gain a deeper understanding in how minimalist design works and operates in websites. While overhauling your website to a minimalist design may be too drastic a solution, you can nonetheless use some of its principles to help strengthen and tighten your web design to provide a better user experience.
More on minimalist website design principles:
Author: Christopher Jan Benitez
Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It’s still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time.