The online space (and life in general really) is oversaturated with all kinds of visuals and sounds that fill our senses with information, clickbait, things we need, things we want, and things we didn’t even know existed. Social Media, blogs, websites and videos right at our fingertips to get us to click, consume, learn, and act.
Then once in a while we come across a breath of fresh air; a minimalist bit of design that has more empty space than we are commonly used to. Our curiosity is heightened due the amount of light airiness we feel when seeing this design. This is why Minimalist Websites have a certain kind of charm that can only be compared to peaceful spaces like maybe a Japanese onsen.
Aspects of Minimalist Design
Minimalist Design is not the absence of design, it is rather well thought out design. The main principles of minimalist are; simplicity, refinement, elegance and balance. When designing a Minimalist Website, the line between refinement and boring is very thin, minimalist doesn’t mean forgetting the important things, it means knowing how to pick WHAT is important and how to display it, minimally.
To be successful at nailing minimalist principles there are some aspects of composition that should be considered. For example, conscious use of symmetry, direction, empty space and a very good choice of typography will make a minimalist design look elegant instead of empty and boring.
If there are colors involved in the design, then those are usually monochromatic or analogous, not overly bright or invading. The use of color is minimal but that does not mean that there is no contrast. Actually contrast is an important aspect of minimalistic composition, it’s just the “right amount” of contrast to heighten interest but no overwhelm.
A brief History of Minimalism
Minimalism started at the beginning of the 20th Century with the De Stijl Art Movement, minimalist architecture and the appreciation of zen aspects of Japanese Culture. From these inspirational roots, minimalism then moved on to interior and industrial design, music and ultimately web design. The general idea and motto behind minimalism is what architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had to say about it.
“Less is More”
Later on, industrial designer Dieter Rams said of minimalism;
“Less, but Better”
Those three word quotes sum up what Minimalism is and I hope the irony doesn’t go unnoticed.
Where do we see Minimalism in our Daily Lives?
If you are a designer then you can probably tell quite easily when you see a piece of minimalist design, be it in your house, your kitchen, on the street or at work. For other mortals it might not be so obvious. The reason this happens is because minimalism, even if it’s one of the most significant design movements of the 20th century, is actually more like a visual style than a movement. We live with minimalism around us every single day and it escapes most people’s consciousness that it’s even there.
The biggest and most prominent show of minimalism that we see around us is Apple. All their products have a minimalist design that charms the pants of any designer and anyone that enjoys “nice things”. Your kitchen and home might have some minimalist designs as well. Have you ever been to a MUJI shop? That place is the epitome of minimalist living. IKEA is also a minimalist design concept that you might be more used to than you think.
Why are Minimalist Websites so successful?
A Minimalist website welcomes you warmly with a calm attitude that lets you ease into the information it wants to give you. The colors and contrasts are consciously chosen to make CTA’s obvious and easy, even pleasurable. You might not notice but the entire design is most definitely following a grid, and using it wisely. The Golden Mean, and the Rule of Thirds are a Minimalist Designer’s best friend.
Menus, categories and tabs in a Minimalist Website are easy to find and navigate, text is short and sweet, photography is neutral and easy on the eye. Nothing jumps out too far unless it really has to and even if it does it will most definitely be on purpose yet not overpowering.
Examples of Amazing Minimalist Websites
Success of Minimalism in Web Design is the use of White Space. Use it wisely and your site will shine. Choose the right typography, compose your images wisely and be conscious of everything you add to the design. Everything matters, everything is important.
Below are some of my favorite minimalist websites for you to explore.
Can I tell you something? I think I need to take a lot OUT of my site! Don’t you feel like your site might need a minimization too?
Subtraction.com is the personal blog of designer Khoi Vinh.