“Less is more” – you’ve probably heard this phrase a number of times. Like most of us, you might be thinking of it as a sort of a “minimalist mantra”.
This mantra has certainly imprinted itself into modern design, as minimalism remains one of the most popular design philosophies. From architecture to fashion, “the art of less”, has proven to be a tenacious influence on creators and trends.
When we talk about minimalism in web design, we’re referring to a design approach that seeks to simplify the user interface and website navigation. This is done by using only the elements that have a distinct purpose, whether aesthetic or functional.
We’ve grown used to clean, uncluttered interfaces without necessarily dubbing them minimalist. The principles of minimalism have taken over web design and still dictate key trends, but this is not without good reason. A minimalist design can greatly enhance the user experience, which, in the case of business websites and e-commerce stores, immediately translates to an improved customer experience.
Clarity above all
Minimalism is not about getting rid of elements for the sake of clean-cut aesthetics and a sleek-looking website. Sometimes, you might find designers taking things too far, eliminating to the point that the website either looks unfinished or navigation becomes confusing because too many elements are hidden. That’s the exact opposite of what minimalist design seeks to achieve.
The primary goal of minimalist web design is to improve usability and make navigation effortless. In a survey by Hubspot, 76% of consumers stated that the most important factor in a website’s design is how easy it makes it for them to find what they want.
Clarity is one of the crucial factors for an effortless user experience, and in order to introduce clarity to your design, you’ll first have to get rid of a lot of visual clutter. That’s where the crispy minimalist aesthetics come in.
By avoiding excess details, buttons, and other distractions, you’ll be able to guide the visitor’s focus to help them find what they need within a matter of seconds. In order to emphasize content and guide the visitor’s eye to important elements on the page such as CTA buttons, designers also rely on simplified layouts, whitespace (negative space), and contrast.
Making a good impression
You’ll often hear that a business’ website is the digital face of the brand. That’s really the best way to put it, considering that your entire online presence and content marketing strategy begin and end with your site.
Now, when a visitor lands on a site overwhelmed with pop-ups, text, colour, and imagery – a cluttered nightmare in other words – what impression are they getting of your business?
Most certainly, they’ll get the impression that you’re disorganized and probably quite amateur. Visual appearances create powerful associations in our minds; the last thing you want is to have your audience associate your brand with confusion and anxiety.
Websites designed in the minimalist fashion convey a sense of professionalism on the spot, helping you make a convincing case for your brand and capture leads effectively. A sleek website with enough breathing space that clearly focuses on quality rather than quantity shows that you’re confident in what you’re doing and deserving of your audience’s trust. You’ll also see carefully chosen colour palettes where designers use fewer colours that work well with each other, relying on colour psychology to visually convey a sense of trust and authority.
Fast, responsive websites
Minimalism didn’t earn its place in modern web design because people like the look of clean, organized websites. Tastes vary and at the end of the day, it’s practicality and functionality that dictate major trends, rather than aesthetic preferences. Minimalism continues to rule the web because it entails design choices that are optimal for improving site speed and accessibility.
Because of their uncluttered interfaces and simplified navigation, minimalist websites are lighter to load, which makes them faster. With statistics showing that 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load within 2 seconds, you can see how minimalist design choices ultimately impact bounce rates and conversions.
Along with improved performance, websites with simplified layouts and navigation are also highly flexible for responsive design and improving mobile UX. Designing for speed, optimal usability, and flexibility for various devices are all crucial to improving website SEO and earning higher search engine rankings.
Lastly, minimalist websites are not only lighter and easier to navigate, but simple design makes them easier to maintain as well. All of these parts blend and come together to make a strong case for minimalism in web design.
Basic elements can be powerful visual tools
When less is more, each element is able to come to light. Whether it’s the navigation bar, hero image, font, CTA buttons, or anything else that comes to mind, minimalism teaches us that every element needs to have a distinct and justified purpose. Now, the idea is not to strip everything away and leave a barebone website. Although functionality is the priority, design choices are also directed at how certain elements impact the consumer and influence their perspective.
That’s why we’re seeing designers taking a very creative, experimental approach to one of the most fundamental design elements – typography. Fonts are treated as important visual statements. They also contribute to improved usability and effortless navigation by helping guide the user’s focus. In the past year, big, bold fonts took over, and they’ve proven to be especially effective for displaying short, resounding brand messages.
Essentially, minimalism requires the contemplation of each element, from the layout to the choice of fonts. Designers seek to uncover the essence – to convey a brand’s voice through their website by focusing on the fundamentals and eliminating the excess. If they’re successful in this endeavour, the brand message comes out front and centre. Your website rightfully becomes the digital face of your brand, and customers are able to feel they’re making informed buying decisions.
We can say with confidence that as a style or design language, minimalism is not going anywhere anytime soon. It simply works too well with websites because it puts the user experience first. And in an era where the user experience is almost equated with the customer experience, or at least a large portion of it, these kinds of web design choices are something businesses can’t afford to overlook.