Minimalism is a popular design concept in modern times. It’s the art of reducing. You can experiment with colors, transitions and navigation or the complete elimination of any elements. There are many ways to implement minimalism.
In this post we’ll explore minimalism in digital product design.
We’ll go over the main elements of minimalism and illustrate them with stunning examples of minimalist websites.
First… what is minimalism?
An actual definition of minimalism
These are the main principles of minimalism when designing web sites:
- User-friendly interface
- Hidden navigation
- No more than three colors at a time
- Lots of empty space
- Experimentation with fonts
- No excess detail: color transitions, shadows, textures
- No extra buttons
Minimalism in web design refers to simplifying the interface and removing any unnecessary elements.
Also, you can do more with less.
Here are some other benefits of minimalism that you might be interested in, along with the beauty it can bring.
Minimalism is fashionable and it will stay that way forever.
It is easy to create responsive websites for minimalist designs.
Minimalist websites load quicker because there are fewer objects on each page.
Minimalism allows you to focus all your attention on the service or product that you are selling.
Navigation becomes intuitive when minimalism is used.
While minimalist websites can be very easy to build and maintain, even seasoned designers can make these two errors:
- Products that don’t look finished because they didn’t fully consider the design
- Minimalism has the effect of hiding important navigation buttons, creating a less pleasant user experience
Minimalist living: these are some key principles that will help you create beautiful minimalist websites, apps, and other digital products
Whitespace is a good option
Whitespace or negative space, which is a more appropriate term for design, is the space between elements of a composition.
Whitespace has many advantages, but the most important is that it improves user experience and focuses attention on your product and webpage content.
Whitespace can be used to balance a design.
You can create a website that captivates visitors by being aware of what is in the space between the main content blocks.
This will allow you to make them stay longer and scroll further.
A minimalist style is one that uses a lot more whitespace.
The website of Thomas Slack (an LA fashion and portrait photographer) features a beautiful use of whitespace.
It’s impossible to miss the beauty and inspiration of his work.
See his website here.
Use bright colors
While bright colors can be fun, it can be difficult to incorporate them in minimalism.
Vivid backgrounds grab attention and draw the eye.
Too much color can make the background boring and distracting.
Mix bright colors with more muted, soothing hues.
Add some black or white typography to create a bright product.
Avoid complex animations, transitions between content blocks, and distracting fonts.
Minimalism is about the art of focusing on what you have. Choose one thing to focus on and do your best. Color alone is not enough.
Fonts can be fancy
Bold fonts are a BIG trend in web design.
You are free to be as creative or as simple as you like, but make sure the font is easily read and grabs the attention of your users.
Minimalist websites can be visually appealing by making use of typography.
Fonts help to create hierarchy and tell your visitors what’s most important.
Remember that how fonts are displayed on mobile devices will affect the usability of your product.
Statista says more than half of all websites were created using a mobile-first approach, from 2009 to 2017.
This trend will absolutely continue, given the number of available mobile devices.
Surprisingly, lots of web designers still use a desktop-first approach (or spend far too much time worrying about every device size instead of making one mobile-first design that looks great on all the most popular mobile devices).
Google, of course, presented its Mobile First Index a few years back which passes tremendous weight to a website’s mobile site (placing it at the top of search results).
Websites that want to be found by search engines need to be be mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first.
Because of their crisp, clean appearance, Sans Serif fonts make the best choice for creating minimalist websites.
These are some creative studios who have used bold fonts successfully in their homepage designs.
A minimalist design is also important in terms of font size, especially when there aren’t many elements on the page.
Small fonts can be an effective way to present information in a small space.
Be careful though, as tiny fonts can easily become lost on the page, making the design look messy and distracting.
The FactoryDowntown artist management company owns the website shown below (link here).
It looks [sort of] sleek and minimalist but the graffiti font they use makes it difficult to read and the green even makes your eyes hurt a bit.
Even worse, the homepage took forever to load so eventually I just gave up and closed the window.
Because I was really determined, I finally found some internal pages of this website.
They were bad.
This agency clearly employs incredible creative talent and no-doubt knows what people want, but none of that is passed on to the website’s aesthetic design or user experience.
I’ve seen this many times.
It’s a clear example of a creative person(s) applying the right strategies to the wrong medium and it’s a very common mistake that I see all the time.
Combining text blocks
You can create an effortless effect by dividing your text into blocks.
Blocks make it easier for users to read text and bring lightness to the overall design.
George A. Miller, one the founders of cognitive psychology, also contributed to psycholinguistics, studies of human memory, and communication.
Short-term memory can hold only seven pieces of information simultaneously, plus or minus 2.
Miller’s original article can be viewed here.
The bottom line is that the more information you add to your user interface the more difficult it will become to use, especially for the first time.
You should organize information into categories that are no more than nine, but at least five.
You can see an example of how to group information in blocks on the website where mountains meet.
It is important to eliminate all unnecessary elements.
However, designers sometimes go too far and remove most navigation buttons from websites.
It is a good idea to eliminate non-essential elements.
However, you should not hide links or instruments that are vital to your users.
I recommend that you leave the menu button alone and that you encapsulate all of the navigation buttons within it.
You can also hide the homepage button in your company logo.
Additionally, make sure your buttons are clearly highlighted when they are viewed so that users can see that they are clickable.
All these techniques and more are implemented by design shops like Visual Soldiers (who are excellent at what they do).
Many minimalist designers love the mantra “Subtract it until it breaks”.
It really means that unless an element is a problem, you can get rid of it.
I actually think that mantra is misleading, especially for beginner and novice designers.
Instead, use the similar mantra “Only keep what’s absolutely necessary”.
Sometimes the step just before “breakage” isn’t the most optimal place to be.
Regarding menus, tech company’s minimalistic website (TALKD) offers great examples of how to display multiple menus using basic typography and little else.
I’d have liked to have seen more in terms of design elements because ultimately, the goal is to keep people interested and since there’s so much content, the homepage does come off like a long discussion in monotone… and that doesn’t sell.
While I saw lots of links to important pages, I did not see link to their social profiles which is unfortunate because people do jump link to see what’s going on with your socials.
TALKD did do a nice job of keeping their site very minimal, welcoming, and clear using hardly any design elements other than typography (which was also very minimalistic).
You could argue my feedback reflect design quirks however the idea behind
minimalist design is not to look cool, but to be practical in a most efficient and effective way.
Choose images carefully
Beautiful images are more than just fluff.
It’s been scientifically proven.
It’s also why there is a whole industry dedicated specifically to design.
You can create an emotional connection between your site and your visitors by using large, bright, high quality photos.
This will help to set up a special atmosphere.
Images should not be used only as decoration, but must also showcase the product or service that you offer.
Add small details
If a trend doesn’t evolve over time, it won’t survive.
Because minimalism is flexible and adaptable, it has remained relevant for so many years (and will continue to live on forever).
By adding small details, designers can experiment with minimalist websites and challenge the established view.
These details can be used to draw attention.
That’s how / why they become functional.
Flying decorative signs, underlining and geometric objects, as well as fragments, are becoming more popular because they add something to the design, balance it out, separate it or point towards it.
You can use tiny details, such as pointers, to draw attention to the main content or separate it.
You can use small details to decorate images or typography.
They can be drawn to attention by following scrolling or using the mouse pointer.
Just remember when adding small elements to a map, make sure it doesn’t affect navigation.
Minimalist design has been a popular choice for many years.
This trend is expected to continue.
Minimalism can seem simple at first glance however it’s anything but.
To make it easy and user-friendly, you must carefully consider each element.
You also need to understand that the more fluff and decoration you remove, the more your work becomes visible.
Don’t sacrifice usability in favor of visuals.
Organize your content and create a better path through the website.
I hope this all helps and wish you all the best with your minimalist projects.
Remember, paid ads work and taking a minimalist approach to marketing (i.e., finding what works for you and doubling down while everyone else is chasing their tails with the newest shiny tactic of the day) always yields the best results.
Ivan is a professional advertiser and digital content marketer. Here are some famous brands he’s worked with.
When he’s not running ad campaigns, Ivan is helping people get more customers with free ai-powered interactive chatbots (i.e., virtual assistants for your website that turn prospects into paying customers).