28th September 2011

Importance of Minimalism in Web Design

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I’ve always found it easy to experience the pleasure of minimalism and it’s recent revival; in architecture, fashion, product design, info-graphics and through into web.  The immediacy of the design is satisfying, controlled and perfectly poised, instantly focusing you on the point – the purpose.

However, this is where the ‘internet’ in its majority is different. It’s a lot more visually complex in comparison to print and television. This is exacerbated by interactivity; we can drag, click, play and even gesture with what we see. Couple this with the widespread implementation of GoogleAds and pop-ups that expand, play sound, move and generally frustrate the user by desperately seeking our attention.

Therefore as we have become more Internet savvy, we’ve become less and less tolerant of cluttered and poorly designed websites. We’ve trained ourselves to ignore what we assume is none-essential information, almost glancing at the website and instantly being turned off by long unformatted paragraphs, over complicated navigations, multiple videos/animations that you have no control over, broken filtering systems, flashing imagery, hidden external links, a lack of a hierarchy and/or journey into the website…

I recently watched my Dad trying to book some cheap flights online. He fired up Google, started opening tabs left, right and centre. Once he had amassed the front page of results, he started flicking through the websites trying to find the best deal. The amount of websites that were not fit for purpose was staggering. I watched him become rapidly frustrated and vowing to never use said companies in the future. After a lot of frustration, he stumbled across a well designed, composed website in which everything he needed was clearly accessible. The price wasn’t the cheapest, but the website was the easiest to use and the least visually confusing. This reflected well on the company and gave him the impression of a professional and reliable outfit.

I guess the problem is that we always want to maximise on any given situation we have. We want to be able to cater to everyone’s needs, by offering lots of different elements. The problem is unless these are controlled, edited and well laid-out; all of the good ingredients are wasted. Much like a plate of all-you-can-eat buffet.

Remove the waste and structure the core. Minimalism works as it conveys a message in the simplest possible way and in that respect your website should do too. White space is often overlooked, however it is vitally important, helping to create focus on the key message.  Space used judiciously can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance. Inversely, a cluttered page appears amateurish, awkward and cheap.

Ultimately remember if you were trying to sell your house, you wouldn’t show a buyer around while you had clutter everywhere and last nights washing up in the sink. Give them a clear welcome and one that says you appreciate their time.