Minimalism has been in use for several years, and it seems like it will keep going strong in 2018. It is a style that avoids cognitive overload, and which correlates with lower bounce rates. In this article, we’re going to explore this style and how it can be implemented for your website in order to improve UX.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is often considered a purely visual choice, but it does extent into the functional aspect of a website as well. It is a powerful UX technique that was developed as a response to the heavy cluttering of older web design styles.
If you go back to the earlier years of the internet, you probably remember the cartoonish fonts, cluttered graphics, and the generally difficult to navigate nature of those websites. One of the first uses of the minimalist style was found on the Google website. The homepage of Google featured a single, large element – the search function.
The purpose of this website was clear right away. The users saw nothing else outside of the company’s branding and the search function. This simplicity played a part in Google’s rise to prominence. Soon enough, competitors followed suit, and a new movement in web design was born.
The elements of a minimalist website
In order to achieve a minimalist style, both in terms of esthetics and functionality, you have to strip down a website to its essentials. The goal is to achieve “cognitive fluency”, which is a concept where the brain intuitively understands the purpose of the website.
There are several hard and fast rules when it comes to certain elements:
- White spaces: White space, or negative space, is the most common element of a minimalist design. A good minimalist design will use white space to draw a user’s attention to a certain object. The more white space around an object, the more that object pops out visually.
- Flat textures: In minimalism, flat is almost a rule of thumb. By using the flat graphic style for elements, textures and icons, a minimalist design does not distract from the intended use of a page.
- Simple colors: Simplicity is tied to effectiveness in this design style. By using fewer colors, in a visual hierarchy, a minimalist design is able to engage a user, without being boring or ostentatious.
- Fonts: Fonts can be used strategically to attract attention. Bold typefaces or interesting letterforms can be used to highlight important information and CTAs.
- Imagery: A picture is worth a thousand words, which makes images a great asset for the minimalist style. They can be used to set the mood and create an emotional connection with the user. However, it’s important to be selective here, and maintain the theme of minimalism. A busy photo will only look out of place in a flat style website. The same should apply to any adverts you present on your website
- Contrast: Contrast plays a key role in minimalist website. Due to the relatively small number of design elements, contrast can be used to create a visual hierarchy, and guide the user through the page.
A few quick tips
When starting with a minimalist theme, you want to keep a few things in mind. First, the “above the fold” area of your website should have primacy, and it should be designed in a way that immediately intrigues users. This space can be dramatic if you use a large quantity of white space. Below the fold, you can increase content density to relay important information.
When building landing pages, you should focus on singular, central concept that is enforced with visual elements. Information should be simple, and easily digestible, with the main focus being on visual communication. When it comes to the content throughout the website, the copy should be crisp. There’s no need to use flowery adjectives, or go into too much detail. The information should be kept simple and to the point.
Finally, you want to make sure that the site is easy to navigate. This is easier said than done, and some designers who are just starting out might have difficulty with this. Navigation elements should not be stripped down for the sake of minimalism, and they should remain clearly visible in order to provide the best UX.
The best way to achieve a minimalist design is to search for templates and other websites that are using this style. Our guide covers some of the basic elements and best practices of minimalism, but there’s definitely a lot to learn about the style.