Website design is discussed at length among marketers, SEO experts, and graphic designers. As with fashion and interior design, our tastes for website design have evolved and will continue to change with time. One concept currently in vogue is a minimalist web design — the effort to simplify a website’s look and user interface.
Minimalist designs remove unnecessary tabs, menus, or other content that doesn’t support the user’s needs or goals. Minimalism is about only the most necessary elements, and just as you find minimalist principles in art, music, and literature, so too, you will find it on the web. The idea is to strip away as much clutter as possible: no pop-up videos, no tabs, no dropdown menu navigation. Ask yourself: “How does this help me achieve the purpose of this website?”
That’s the list of what minimalist websites don’t have. Here is what you’ll find instead:
- Negative space — This is the most common element of minimal design. By using empty space, the eye is drawn toward what little remains on the page.
- Large images — While some minimal sites are blank pages with text, others opt to bring life to the space with a vivid photo related to the service or product.
- Contrast — You’ll often see black, white, and gray, along with a bold color.
- Bold typography — With little on the page, the words become the artistic element. Symmetry/harmony — Designers will create balance or symmetry with the words and images, or go for an asymmetrical look to draw the eye.
Pros of Minimalist Web Design
Many businesses want a website that converts users into customers, or at least into warm leads. That’s one reason minimalist design works. Here are the other pros.
- Easy Navigation — Your users are in a hurry. Why force them to figure things out? Take Lapka, for example. The site uses tons of white space and large photos. In fact, there’s not much to click on at all. Because of that, your eye is drawn to the text, attracted to the calls to action. You’re not overwhelmed by choices. Instead, you have just a few options, making navigation simple.
- Faster Loading Times — Studies show slow load times lead to higher bounce rates, meaning people won’t wait for a site to finish loading. They’ll head somewhere else instead. Check out https://www.danielhopwood.com/. The page loads quickly because there isn’t much on it. The first screen is white with some text. You are soon led to beautiful images that demonstrate his work.
- SEO Friendly — Minimalist design is easy for search engine bots to crawl. There’s not a lot of clutter on the front end or in the back, stored in code. If the website is designed with bots in mind in addition to the human users, you can actually boost SEO. (Faster load times are part of SEO, too.)
- Fewer Problems — A less complex site with fewer applications, plugins, and elements is less likely to break.
- Style Forever — While web design tastes will change, minimalist design is not likely to look outdated for some time. You’re not using elements or styles that are a hot fad; instead, you’re relying on sharp images and the right typography to convey your message.
- Easy Recall — A cluttered site has too much on it for your brain to remember. Visitors will remember your design without effort because it makes such a powerful statement.
Cons of Minimalist Website Design
While minimalist design has its benefits, the approach isn’t for everyone or every business. Here are some downsides:
- Limited Communication — With few words and images, it’s difficult to communicate complex products and services. If you’re selling one product or service, it’s easy to convey what you want the user to do. However, if you have a content-rich site that requires interaction, it’s OK to select another approach.
- Too Blank — If your website design is well thought out, this shouldn’t be a problem. But some take minimalism too far, stripping it down, so the site is sparse, appearing unfinished. Instead of clean and well organized, it’s a desert landscape, with nowhere for the eye to land.
- Lack of Creativity — If used in the wrong context, minimalism may backfire. For example, if you have talent and creativity to display, but your site is a blank page with a few words, it might be hard to convince a visitor of your value.
- Lack of Room for Growth — As your company grows, you may find yourself hindered by the design. Those who plan will not have this problem, but those who don’t may find they need room for more.
Should You Go Minimalist?
A business consultant might want to skip the minimalist approach for the reasons listed above, while a photographer or musician may prefer it as a way to showcase his or her work. While some people love the look of minimalism, you must remember your end user at all times. Will your customer appreciate the bare necessities, finding it easy to navigate? Or will your non-creative user shy away from what looks to him like something is missing?
That said, you can create a website that strips away the unnecessary and makes navigation easy for users without going completely minimalist. Learn more about flat design, or contact us to talk about the design for your new website.
This article was originally published on the Imaginovation blog.