Design. Why Less Is More.

July 1, 2016

Internet users are attracted to websites that have a clean, seemingly straightforward design and, because of this, minimalism is maintaining its popularity in current web design trends. In addition to this, users are also in favour of websites that are user friendly and that focus on the necessary components to guide them to what they need as soon as possible as opposed to multiple distractions. Users typically make a decisions about your website within 50 milliseconds and if all they see is a bunch of clutter, chances are they won't stick around for long. Minimalist design can give you higher engagement rates, increased usability and a positive sentiment from your visitors.

Minimalism isn't a modern day invention. In fact, minimalist design stretches back to the early 20th century when architecture began to adopt a moderate approach to design. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German-American architect who was widely regarded as a pioneer of modern architecture and is often associated with the aphorism 'less is more'. This attitude towards design quickly spread across the arts industries, with the driving notion that if a design element didn't contribute to the overall purpose of the design, then it was to be left out.

Minimalism and Web Design Strategy

Minimalism also isn't a stranger to web design, and some principles of minimalism were applied all the way back in the early 2000s. However more recently the 'less is more' design approach has become very popular. There are several components that can be considered important when it comes to approaching minimalism within your design strategy:

Complex Simplicity: As you would expect, simplicity is somewhat of an oxymoron when it comes to web design. Even though a website portrays simplicity, it is highly likely that a lot of time and effort contributed to its creation. And in some cases you may have a beautifully simple design, yet the usability is impossible. Finding balance between simplicity and usability is also key and one way to achieve this is by enabling visitors to complete tasks with little distraction. Focusing on intuitive navigation and cutting out redundant decorative elements such as Flash will help to drive a positive simplistic user experience.

Negative Space: Another oxymoron in minimalist web design is negative space, which should be referred to as positive space, because in this instance it is. When we speak of negative space, we mean the blank spaces or white (sometimes full colour) areas between the existing elements on a page. When you see more white space, it means the designer is emphasising the important elements on the page, as opposed to overcrowding. This gives visitors a more engaging experience because they know what they have to do to reach their goal of visiting the site in the first place. Designers have to be careful with negative space and ensure they don't incorporate too much and remove key elements that users need to understand their path within the site.

Typography: Typography plays an important role in any type of web design however, with less elements on the page in minimalist design, typography becomes more powerful. This blog has some beautiful examples of websites that focus on typography within their minimalist design.In some instances, typography can hinder a 'less is more' approach to design by being too dramatic. It is important to always remember the key principle of minimalism; if it doesn't help to emphasise the point of the website, then leave it out. Make sure the typography gives the right message for the brand design.

By applying the principles of minimalism with a modern day twist focused on usability designers can create successful websites that drive users towards their goals more efficiently. Need help with your website brand strategy and design? Drop us a line here.

Prototype is a web design firm based in Dubai and Miami.

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Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser

CEO

Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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