In the 1960s, a new art form was born in New York. Artists would take time to eliminate any discontent from their piece of art in order to make it as simple and clear as possible. Even though this minimalistic approach to art was somewhat short-lived, it seems to be making a huge comeback in almost all aspects of life – and especially web design.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon to land on a webpage that is crowded with image sliders, newsletter subscription pop-ups, on-load videos, social media bookmarks, trending blog posts, etc. all jam-packed on one page and competing for your attention.
Even though placing everything at eye-level seems like a good marketing idea, it is actually self-defeating. The user will be too overwhelmed with the information overload to pick out anything useful.
To avoid this, web designers use the minimalist website design technique to strip of any unnecessary elements and blocks to ensure they end up with an aesthetically appealing minimalist website design.
If you’re looking to create a WordPress site, using minimalism concepts, you can visit this collection of minimal WordPress themes by CollectiveRay.
How to achieve a minimalist website design
The modern-day UX /UI designer uses minimalism as a way of achieving the aesthetic principles of balance, harmony, and unity. But how exactly can you achieve minimalism? Here are some of the methods you can use.
The measure of how good a web design is how well it guides the user to the focal point.
The focal point of a website is the place where the user should concentrate most. If there is no focal point on a website, the visitor gets confused and this might lead to a high bounce rate.
A user shouldn’t have to feel lost on the website wondering what the website is all about. Some websites bombard their visitors with lots of unrelated information that they end up totally confused.
In less than five seconds of visiting a website, a visitor should have known what the website is all about as well as how they can navigate to the different sections. Minimalism design is the most effective way of achieving this.
Use of whitespace
Nature may hate vacuums but minimalism design loves empty whitespace.
Just think of whitespaces as the best clutter busters in web design. They help to make everything on the website to stand out. In fact, white spaces are known to increase conversion rates on websites because they help the user to concentrate more on the products, services and page content.
This is why big e-commerce brands like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy love using whitespace around their product images.
Put the user in control
When on a roller-coaster, the feeling of not being in control can be thrilling. On a website, however, a user wants to feel in control.
For instance, some designers use a pop-up screen that has no close button on as a smart way of increasing conversion rates. What they fail to understand is users will feel frustrated and annoyed as soon as they lose control.
Another common mistake is a confusing splash screen as the user waits for a slow website to load. A good designer should use a minimalist design to make sure they do not snatch navigation control away from the user.
Use colors creatively
The use of too much color is not a good idea. A minimal design should use a maximum of three colors.
The bigger issue, however, is not how many colors the designer uses but how creatively he uses them.
For example, it is possible to use one or two colors but use them creatively to create the illusion that you used more than four colors. You just need to use different color opacities, gradients and color shapes appropriately.
Using colors creatively is the most effective way of catching the attention of the user before they even engage with the other aspects of the website.
Use pictures to explain words
One would assume that words are meant to explain pictures but the opposite is true for minimalist website design.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so instead of using a thousand words, why not use a picture?
Pictures can easily help the user decipher the functions of the different sections of the website. Instead of writing lengthy descriptions, a good picture with a simple caption will do the trick.
Fonts and typography
Fonts and typography can be used to achieve a hierarchy on a minimalist website design.
When used creatively, a user can automatically know which part of the page is more important.
Fonts play a huge role in determining the user-friendliness of a website and they should, therefore, be creatively and thoughtfully used. A good minimalist design does not use too many fonts or typography.
It is actually possible to make an aesthetically appealing design with only one font. All you have to do is use different font sizes, font colors, line heights, and other font properties to achieve hierarchy.
Without well-placed menus and other navigation tools, a user will have a horrible surfing experience. Minimalism does not mean doing away with the menus. You can take inspiration from mobile and progressive web applications which need to make the best use of space available to them.
You can find a creative way of displaying them but it is very important to make it possible for the user to easily navigate to the different sections of the website.
But in the spirit of minimalism, do not overcrowd the homepage with links and sub links. For instance, you can use a nested menu to ensure only a handful of links are displayed at first glance.
Website owners often have a content dilemma when coming up with a minimalist design. Because they want users to see everything they have to offer, they want to place everything at eye level.
As clever as that might sound, it is actually a bad idea. It is more effective to make your homepage less crowded. Think about your favorite restaurant – don’t you feel a bit irritated when you walk in and find it crowded with people? Users get the same feeling when they land on a crowded website. Suffice it to say that a minimalist design will do your business a lot of good.