Minimalism in 2018: Best Practices for Designers

The Minimalism movement has been around for more than half a century now.

What began as a way to embrace simplicity in visual arts and music is now extending into the world of web design. With this approach, designers are trying to create web pages that offer simple, but functional web pages. Though they exude simplicity, minimalistic designs are often challenging to create and require tremendous ingenuity.

Here is everything you need to know about it and the best ways to exploit minimalism.

1. What Is Minimalism in Website Design?

Minimalism in web design refers to simplifying the interface at its core. It involves removing all the clutter from the website and keeping only the essential elements. All this must be done without affecting the site’s functionality though.

In other words, minimalism forces you to question the importance of each component of your website. You have to make a conscious decision when designing the interface. Even the slightest imbalance can undermine the user experience.

2. Why Embrace Minimalism?

The beauty of simplicity is that it can attract more users and convert them into your lifelong customers. However, the reasons for using minimalist web design go well beyond higher sales conversions.

A. Easy Navigation

Minimalism makes navigation not only easy, but also intuitive. It focuses on removing rarely used navigation elements and highlighting the relevant ones. As a result, people know exactly where to click. They don’t have to wiggle through a mesh of menus.

B. Lesser Maintenance

It may sound obvious, but a simple site structure means less maintenance. Usually, animations, dozens of plugins and widgets, and dense content layout require higher maintenance. Such a layout also increases the chances of website failure, which could prove detrimental to your business.

C. No Pop-Ups, No Distraction

Most people hate pop-ups because they are distracting. They are often called a necessary evil as they are required to get a user’s attention. Minimalism, however, seeks to capture the attention of users through the natural elegance of colors, designs, and fonts. So, there is no need for pop-ups.

D. Faster Loading

The fewer payloads your website has, the quicker it will load. As there are no heavy-duty animations and undesirable elements in a minimalist interface, your site will be lighter than air. You can, thus, build fast-loading and mobile-friendly websites without compromising their quality.

E. Great UX

Minimalism makes extensive use of whitespace, which adds a perfect balance to the web design. It also improves the user experience and concentrates their attention on the most significant content. Such a web design oozes elegance and buoyancy, resulting in a great UX.

3. Examples of Minimalist Websites

By now, you must have understood that minimalism makes sense. But, how do you go about doing it? Here are a couple of examples that will show you how businesses are leveraging minimalism in web design.

A. Danilo De Marco

One way to embrace minimalism is to use bold fonts and solid background colors. Danilo De Marco, graphic designer by profession, knows how to use them. His site also uses hidden menus. However, as you scroll down the website, a combination of bright background colors and simple text captures your attention.

Danilo De Marco

B. Leen Heyne

As mentioned, minimalism embodies confidence, elegance, and a modern look. That’s why it makes for the right web design choice for luxury lifestyle brands such as Leen Heyne jewelry.

Leen Heyne

The brand specializes in creating high-end handcrafted jewelry. Most of the jewelry pieces, such as rings and bangles, are created by bending and twisting shapes from a single strand. The simplicity of their jewelry design truly reflects in their web design.

C. Pinatex

Minimalism doesn’t always have to be limited to bold fonts and whitespace. You can create a minimalist look with high-quality images as well. Pinatex, a clothing and lifestyle brand, combines minimalism and compartmentalization using photos.

Pinatex

The company produces a natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibers extracted from pineapple leaves. So, they have used three clickable images that define their brand identity: a pineapple, pineapple fiber, and leather. The rest is tucked away in a hamburger menu.

4. Essential Elements of a Minimalist Web Design

Minimalism is all about removing the unnecessary elements in the design. But, when you have fewer visuals, how are you going to provide the necessary functionality and make the desired impact? You must understand the essentials of a minimalist design if you want a functional website with fewer visuals.

A. Dramatic Typography

As graphics and images have limited scope in a minimalist design, you have to make the most of typography. Try to use bold and beautiful fonts. However, when doing so make sure to consider text hierarchy, the size of the font, and variations in weight and style. For example, bold typography should be used only to send out a strong message.

B. Attention to Detail

As there are fewer elements on the site, each one should look perfect. So, pay close attention to the tiniest details. Pick out the colors, styles, fonts, and text that bring out the best in your design. You can also use small decorative signs, underlining, geometric objects, and fragments to add an extra poise to your site.

C. Use of Negative Space

Negative space or white space is the backbone of minimalist web design. The purpose of using white space is to focus the user’s attention on a particular element.

So, the more negative space you have, the more impact an element (text or image) will generate. To make the maximum use of white space, always hide the navigation panel in a hamburger menu.

D. Use of Pictures

Although images or photos are not a part of minimalism at its core, there is an increasing trend of using background pictures (even videos). The idea is to use images as the white space itself.

Usually, designers place the hero headers and hero images near the top of the page, taking the form of a slider. However, the background image should serve a purpose. They should also provide the right background for the text. Make sure the content remains readable.

E. Color

Color is perhaps the most critical aspect of minimalist design as you are using fewer elements. With the right combination of colors, you can bring the desired visual element into focus.

Traditional minimalism dictates you should use monochromatic colors, usually shades of gray, black and white. However, designers are experimenting with all sorts of colors today. Just makes sure to use complementary colors and limit their use to 2 to 3 types at the most.

F. Grid Layout

Like monochromatic colors, straight lines, rectangles, and squares are a part of a minimalistic design. If you have more than one essential visual element, you can use a grid layout to organize them harmoniously. You can also apply different color combinations to each block for better aesthetics.

G. Playfulness

Modern web designers are not afraid of adding a little playfulness to their minimalist layouts. You can use quirky and whimsical illustrations in the form of images, GIFs or short animations. However, make sure they are not overpowering your focal point.

5. How to Do It

The terms ‘simplicity’ and ‘minimalism,’ though used interchangeably, are entirely different. In other words, keeping things simple may not necessarily translate into minimalism and vice versa. So, creating a minimalist web design is harder than it seems.

A. Clear the Clutter

The first cardinal rule of minimalism is to de-clutter as clutter creates nothing but distraction. Keep the number of widgets, buttons, menu, and other things as low as possible. The Post Family website is clutter-free with a minimalist approach.

Clear the Clutter

Their home page shows nothing but bold white text against a black background and a hamburger menu in the top right corner. The four arrows mean you can navigate the site using your keyboard.

B. Flat Design

Flat design refers to the use of 2D textures, icons, and graphic elements. It lacks the usual 3D elements such as shadows, highlights, textures, gradients, and other features. Flat design, owing to its sleek layout, loads faster.

Flat Design

It is the preferred design for responsive websites. The Thrive Solo website uses the flat design concept best. Bright background colors, clear text, and a subtle grid, what more do you need to make an impact?

C. Stay Above the Fold

Most people don’t like to scroll down. So, keep all your essential stuff including navigation menu, logo, call-to-action (CTA), and social widgets above the fold. They should be visible the moment people land on your homepage.

Stay Above the Fold

Nua Bikes has a lot of elements on the homepage as they haven’t used a hidden menu. However, all of them are visible above the fold. You don’t have to scroll down to see different products or check out their blog.

D. Reducing Page Count

Clearing the clutter also applies to the number of pages on your site. Keep the page count to a bare minimum without affecting the functionality. Too many web pages mean too many links, which in turn, lead to distraction.

Reducing Page Count

For example, the Cupping Room cafe website has only five webpage links including About, Menu, Social, Gallery, and Contact hidden in a hamburger menu.

E. Choice of Bold Colors

You can most certainly use bold and bright colors. However, always limit the number of colors on your website. Using too many bold colors is a classic rookie mistake. In fact, most minimalist web designers are known to use a single bold color (monochromatic color scheme) as seen on the Mixd website.

Choice of Bold Colors

But, you can also use a mix of light and bold colors like Adolfo Abejon.

Choice of Bold Colors

F. Content

Design your website around the content. It will prevent your visitors’ attention from diverting. Always place high-level content at the top of the screen. Prioritize all the other elements such as color, navigation, and graphics accordingly.

If you are using a text message, strip it down to minimum words. But, make sure the words explain what your users want to learn without leaving them yearning for more.

Content

Here is an example of how to place content in a minimalist site. Creative Void uses the classic minimalist approach of white text on dark background. The message is short, crisp, and spot on.

G. Experimenting with Fonts

If you are going with only a text message, every word becomes a piece of art because dramatic typography is an integral part of minimalism. Experiment with fonts to find out which ones create a lasting impact on the viewers.

Bold and large fonts on a bright color background are a popular choice. You can also take the traditional approach of using black fonts against the expanse of white space. For example, WMat not only uses bold fonts in various sizes, but also turns them into the navigation menu by showing the categories on mouse over.

Experimenting with Fonts

Nuage App, on the other hand, uses large bright colored fonts to greet their visitors with a welcome message.

Experimenting with Fonts

H. Animation

You can also use animation, provided it is functional and serves a purpose. Fortunately, animation can be used in several ways, such as in the navigation to reveal a hidden menu or details on hovering.

Animation can also add a bit of playfulness to your minimalist web design. For example, Symbol Set, an icon font creator and vendor, uses animation to show off their creative skills. The animation shows how you can use icons or symbols instead of words in a sentence with changing background colors.

Animation

6. Should You Embrace Minimalism?

The short answer is, it depends. Minimalism, like any other web designing concept, comes with several pros and cons. If the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, you can embrace minimalism with open arms.

A. Advantages
  • One of the foremost advantages of minimalism is easy navigation. As users are not overwhelmed by extensive links and content, minimalist design can quickly attract and hold their attention longer.
  • Fewer on-page elements increase your site’s loading speed significantly. The uncomplicated architecture also makes it easier to create a mobile-friendly site. This is a crucial benefit as more than half of people leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • Fewer elements also make it easier for search engine bots to crawl your website. Thus, minimalist web design can boost your SEO efforts in the long term.
  • Usually, minimalist websites require less maintenance, owing to their simple architecture. Fewer site breaks often lead to more profits.
B. Disadvantages
  • Minimalist web design leaves you with little room to communicate your message effectively. If you have a large e-commerce website with hundreds of products, minimalism isn’t going to be your cup of tea. This is why international e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Walmart or eBay can’t adopt minimalism.
  • Well-planned web designs can create a substantial impact on your visitors. However, too much minimalism can render a deserted look to your website and turn your prospects away.
  • Minimalist web design is not scalable. If your business is likely to expand over time, you need a website that grows with it.
  • Creativity is the backbone of minimalism. But sometimes it can boomerang, especially if used in the wrong context. You need to be extra careful with the content and its layout.

Conclusion

Minimalism is classy, modern, and even poignant. Most importantly, it is trending in the web design industry. However, without the thorough knowledge of how it works, minimalism can do more harm than good to your brand. Hopefully, this in-depth coverage will help resolve your dilemmas regarding this much-debated designing approach. With these tips, you can try creating a minimalist website and see how it works for your brand. Meanwhile, if you still have doubts or want to share your experience, feel free to drop a comment below.

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