Taking a minimalistic approach to web design and how it can be done right; and how it can be done very wrong
Minimalistic design was popularized in the 1950’s. Since then it has made its way into nearly every visual media imaginable. With the proliferation of mobile browsing and the sheer clutter of many Internet designs, minimalism has taken root in the web design industry as well.
Less is More: Minimalistic Web Design Done Right
A good minimalistic design is simple, eye-catching and easy to process. In most cases, a major element, such as video, images or forms, is supported by a small set of features. However, minimalism is not just about eliminating elements. A true minimalistic design allows you to promote your idea or design with as few elements as possible. When used properly, these methods are highly effective.
A major component of minimalistic web design is the utilization of whitespace. By playing with alignment, padding, grids and the wireframe of the site, you can use this negative space to emphasize elements of your design. This often makes the difference between a simple, unappealing design and a modern, minimalistic design. From headers and logos to images and text content, considering not just what is incorporated in the design but what is not as well. A great example of this is grid-based designs. These designs combine simple text and image blocks in even ratios to create a clean, cohesive look with little clutter.
Emphasizing with Color
Minimalistic designs often use only a few colors. These colors should work well together and help to create contrast to emphasize specific elements of your design. Youthful designs can benefits from neon colors. Business or professional websites can use neutral or basic colors to great effect. Pastels create a warm and inviting look where appropriate. While a simple monochrome design is clean and modern, simply adding a single color to the logo, contact links or other important elements of the page can truly transform the design.
The Power of Typography
With so few elements on the page, every element matters. This makes typography a powerful tool in minimalistic web design. From playing with text alignment and sizing to choosing unique and cohesive fonts, this is often one of the strongest parts of any minimalistic design. Common elements include navigation menus, headers, footers and subheadings. By using clean, distinct fonts, you can break up various elements of the design and make it easier for readers to process the contents of the site quickly.
Too Little Too Late: Minimalistic Web Design Gone Awry
While minimalism is simple in ways, it is very complex to master. A few simple mistakes are all it takes to go from cutting-edge and engaging to out-of-date and bland. These are a few of the biggest mistakes many web designers make when venturing into minimalistic design.
A large part of minimalism is ease of use. In reducing elements and features, many designers fail to consider the navigation aspects of their designs. In many cases, the best way to integrate navigation into your design is through simple text menus or breadcrumbs. These can be easily adjusted to fit your overall design without distracting the user from the main content.
With the precise nature of minimalistic designs, having an element misaligned by just a few pixels can be glaringly obvious. Constant attention to all changes throughout the design process is necessary. Common errors include misaligned elements, overlapping content or typography overflows. This is especially common as sites are populated with large amounts of content. What might not be noticed with a few articles or links could become a major issue once the site is filled.
Lack of Focus
Minimalism helps to draw the attention of the user to the site’s content. This makes minimalism more than just simply removing complex graphics or flashy colors. Consider ways to draw the eye and grab the attention of the site user. If the content or message of the site gets lost in the simplicity, you have likely removed too much. In many cases, a good practice is to eliminate elements until the design no longer works. Then you can simply work back from that point just a few steps and you will have an optimal minimalistic design.
Written by Steven Chalmers: Steven Chalmers has written for the tech industry for many years. When he’s not writing you can find him covering Office 365 partners or working on his vintage hot rod.