Principles for minimalism in web design

Our "Retrobike" template is a great example of minimalist design

In most design related industries, the philosophy of less-is-more has been adopted and has pushed web designers to be minimalists in their web designs.

Web design has undergone some dramatic changes in the last decade with the advent of newer device types, improved internet connection speed, and also an increased number of users. Until about 7 or 8 years ago, web design was only about building websites for desktop browsers; however, designing for mobile and tablet browsers has become inevitable in recent years as more people use smartphones and tablets. This shift is very evident in the number of industries these days where more users visit websites from mobile devices than from desktop or laptop computers.

A good web designer focuses on the layout, appearance, content and intuitive presentation of a website.

Minimalism is not about making luxurious websites, but you’d also be wrong to think it’s about using a few basic components in your design. Minimalist web designs are highly complex, yet very simple.

What is minimalism in web design?

Minimalism is the art of having fewer elements in your design. This popular design philosophy promotes the less-is-more approach by eliminating any unnecessary details that don’t support the user experience.

According to Sitepoint, minimalism has many definitions in different industries. In design, the ap test description states that minimalism is an abstract painting and sculpture school that emphasizes severe form reduction, such as basic shapes and monochromatic primary color palettes, objectivity, and stylistic anonymity.

Principles of minimalism in web design

Minimalist designs may appear simple, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to achieve. There are four determining factors that define a minimalist website. These are visuals, focus, typography, and space.

Minimalism in design spans various arts and industries and it can be challenging to master web design. In web design, minimalism is best achieved when no more elements can be removed without affecting the website’s purpose.

Use flat patterns and features

Flat patterns and features give your web design a simple look. The highlights, shadows, gradients, and other patterns that make User Interface elements look lustrous are not used in flat interfaces. This means your backend will also be simple, which improves page load time.

The features should also be limited to the necessary ones that enhance user experience and hold critical content. Elements include menu, links, buttons, icons, colors, and fonts, and even images used.

Use text blocks

Dividing and arranging your content in blocks helps users understand the information better and makes the design look organized.

Use monochromatic color palettes

Examples on monochromatic palettes

Examples on monochromatic palettes

When choosing colors to use for web design, minimalists often go for monochromatic palettes; mostly in black and white or shades of grey and white.

When choosing your color palette, you should ensure your color scheme has enough contrast for users with poor vision or color blindness to read it. It is best to consider using accent colors deliberately and consistently to draw attention to essential information or primary actions.

Use whitespace

Minimalist web design is all about using a lot of whitespace or negative space. The spaces between the content are just as important as the content itself.

Negative space enhances your users’ focus on the content displayed. Cluttering the web page with many items distracts users from the most important content on your website.

Whitespace also forces web designers to be extremely careful and selective with what they choose to display and ensure it sends a clear message to readers.

Use bright and limited colors

Although monochromatic colors are very popular in minimalist design, it doesn’t mean it will not work with bright colors. It also guarantees a minimalist design just because the web page is in black and white.

Minimalists often use bright colors but are limited to two or three at most. You can use one color in the background to act as negative space and another to show links and textual content. This will be a navigation signal for your users.

As a web designer, you should determine your color palette at the beginning and set it as the basis to avoid deviations that would risk the uniformity of your website.

Use fancy and loud fonts

Using dramatic typography compensates for having less content on the web page and also communicates meaning to users. Font size, weight, and style all play a role in assisting users in understanding the hierarchy and relative importance of text.

Using images with texts can be an excellent way to customize your typography. However, it has the trade-off of increased page load time and also requires more considerations such as scaling.

Why should you use minimalism in web design?

While it’s good to simplify website designs, you must be careful not to cross the line into primitive functionality. An excellent minimalist website offers sophisticated functionality while giving users a relaxed feel.

Some advantages of minimalism in web design include:

Content focus

The structure and categorization of content on your website are just as critical as the colors, font type and images used. Users should get your website’s main message quickly when scanning through it.

Content is organized in spaces that improve readability by using vivid contrast between the images, text, and white background. The straightforward typography and lack of irrelevant buttons and text links make the content more visible.

SEO friendliness

Some factors optimize your website for users. SEO friendliness drives traffic to your website by giving it better visibility on search engines like Google.

Minimalist websites have features that allow search engines to analyze the website and understand its purpose efficiently. For better SEO, a website must be minimalist in its backend and the code used.

Websites with fast-loading pages attract users and are often rated highly for Search Engine Optimization. You don’t want to wait 10 seconds before you can access the services. Minimalist web designs have fewer elements and that makes the pages load faster. A well-designed minimalist website takes about three seconds to load.

Minimal design leads to high SEO, putting your website at the top of Google’s results. This has a positive impact on the company’s name and image and can build the brand. Large companies like Apple have centered their entire design on minimalism, from their product designs to their site’s design.

Better user experience

The simple nature of minimalist web designs makes them easy to navigate. There is no confusing content like cluttered text links. The results of the website are organized in a beautiful, easy-to-read structure.

Minimalist websites remove pop-up options that can be annoying to users. Random “Buy Now” buttons make the users feel pressure and they leave the website too quickly. Minimalist websites give users time to go through the content and make an informed purchasing decision.

The large whitespace in minimalist websites also gives the design a “zen” feel. When visiting your website, users will not feel overwhelmed with information. The relaxed design allows them to engage with your website and the freedom to browse through it peacefully.

Professionalism

Minimalist websites appear sophisticated, and users will relate these websites to prominent professional organizations as a result. Your company, therefore, appears bigger than it is and more professional. More users opt for larger businesses because they have more reviews and are more trustworthy.

A minimalist website can impact your users psychologically and make them trust you more by having a simple design.

Challenges of minimalism in web design

The main challenge in minimalist designs is keeping the design simple but not primitive. You want to create a simple looking website with sophisticated functionality. It takes much skill, research and practice to master the art of minimalism in web design.

Another challenge is keeping the web design simple but not limited.

If not done carefully, removing visual cues for interactive parts or navigation alternatives might detract from the overall user experience. You tidy up the UI, but you also make it more difficult for users to move through the site.

Many designers have made the mistake of introducing hidden navigation while pursuing minimalistic web design. Hiding navigation options in UI elements such as dropdown menus make it harder for users to find information on your website.

To encourage users to spend more time on your website, it is essential to put all critical information in reach by using clickable image cards with summarized information that can redirect them accordingly.

Final words

Achieving more with less is a complex concept. Being a successful minimalist web designer comes down to finding a balance between user experience and simplicity. It may take a lot of practice, but every minimalist web designer follows the same principles to ensure they are on the right track.

Do you want to design your own website? Try the step-by-step guide.