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Minimalism In Web Design: Key Elements, Advantages And Case Studies

Minimalism in web design
75% percent of consumers judge a business’s credibility by the design of its website

Stats show that 94% of negative website feedback is design related.

Also, 75% percent of consumers judge a business’s credibility by the design of its website.

Having a website that checks all the boxes in regards to aesthetics and functionality greatly improves ROI.

Minimalism in web design is an approach to design that yields timeless-looking websites that are also:

  • Fully-functional and provide a good user experience
  • Communicate main messages without distractions
  • Benefit the SEO results 

In this article, we will take a look into each element that makes minimalist web design and examine it in detail.

We will also:

  • Discuss how minimalism in web design prioritizes and improves communication
  • Look into the advantages and benefits of minimalist web design
  • Examine two case studies of websites that successfully transitioned to minimalist design
Looking to grow your brand online?Let us give you ideas

Brief History Of Minimalist Design

Minimalism is not a technique exclusive to web design.

The roots of this artistic movement can be traced to the early 1900s, when the German-American architect Ludwig Miles Van der Rohe pioneered the language of simple design.

Minimalism came to the forefront of design during the 1940s and 1950s, when Swiss style of print design rose to prominence. Its signature traits were bold colors, vivid photography and crisp sans serif typography.

The “less is more” attitude continued to expand to other mediums, eventually ending up on the web and digital platforms. 

Minimalism in web design developed as a response to the growing amount of elements added to websites, such as:

  • Navigation
  • Call-to-actions
  • Imagery
  • Forms
  • Social media plugins and more

UK’s GoDaddy website is a great example of a website going from a cluttered design to a much more minimalist approach.

BEFORE:

GoDaddy's pre-minimalism website
[Source: uk.godaddy.com]
AFTER:

GoDaddy's minimalist website design
[Source: uk.godaddy.com]
The excessive use of these elements can cause confusion with visitors who are turned away by this complexity. 

Minimalism In Web Design Highlights Key Information

Digital design is never only about visual representation or aesthetics – its main focus is successful, to-the-point communication of vital messages.

Minimalist digital design strips the layout and the look of a website or any other digital representation to its foundations. The result of using only basic elements in design is clear and concise messaging.

An example of this approach would be prioritizing one strong call-to-action instead of several mild-looking ones. This eliminates excessive choices for users to interact with and needless distractions.

As a result of focusing the users’ attention on the most important aspect of the message, the conversion rates may increase.

CTAs in minimalist web design
[Source: Neil Patel]
Major brands from various industries – Apple, Google and Nike, to name a few – all adopted this minimalist design aesthetics, leading to it gaining further appreciation in mainstream culture.

Apple's minimalistic web design
[Source: Apple]
Nike's minimalistic web design
[Source: Nike]
Strategists, designers and clients all contribute to the growing use of minimalist digital design and its final outcome regarding its messaging.

  • Strategists provide the brief to the creative team that highlights the direction of the design
  • Designers use their knowledge and skills to balance the form and function of the proposed design
  • Clients voice the priority of their brand and meeting the demands of their userbase

5 Elements Of Minimalist Web Design

Minimalism in digital design does consist of experimenting with colors, transitions, navigation or removal of elements regarded as essential. But there are other ways in which minimalism can be implemented in the design.

1. Negative Space 

Quite possibly the defining element of minimal design, negative space is a technique most commonly associated with this school of design.

Negative space’s primary function is to manipulate the user’s visual flow and direct his or her focus. 

Essentially, the more negative space surrounds a certain element, the more the eye of the viewer is drawn to the said element.

It allows for a comprehensive organization of elements and design work and prevents the final design from overwhelming the website visitor.

It also contains an aesthetical and psychological boon: negative space is perceived as a sign of luxury, prestige and good taste.

[Source: National Geographic]

2. Large And Vivid Photography 

Minimalist website design, as well as minimalist graphic design, can come across as emotionally distant when overdone. This is why a touch of contrast, such as oversized photos, add a bit of necessary balance.

Hero images and headers are the most commonly used examples of vivid imagery in minimal digital design. They create an emotional and contextual connection and set the atmosphere for the media they are a part of.

The contrasting nature of these elements – in relation to minimalism – complements the simplicity of the website’s interface.

However, to keep the minimalistic design intact, these photos should not be busy: they too should feature minimal traits such as expansive skies, broad landscapes, minimalistic interior etc.

Large photography website example
[Source: Liya]

3. Typography 

In the context of minimalistic digital design, sharp, clean and readable typography can contribute a lot to the consistency of this design. 

The typography of choice should, in this instance, stem from no more than two font families and as many color schemes. 

The most impressive examples of typography are those that are most legible.

Typography in minimalism in web design
[Source: Nurture Digital]

4. Color & Contrast 

The philosophy and practice of minimal digital design dictate that color should always assist the typography and imagery on the screen.

The preferred choice of color for minimalist designers is white. It creates a neutral canvas against which they infuse color and other contrasting elements.

The white color can serve as a background or a foreground element, or even as an accent.

Contrast can be created through color but also size, shape, location and scale. This brings attention to specific design elements and helps create a recognizable visual hierarchy.

Color and contrast in minimalist web design
[Source: We Ain’t Plastic]

5. Simple UI/UX

Minimalist design should affect the user experience and user interface as much as it affects the aesthetical impression.

The simple navigation tools are an ideal pairing for a minimal design. Hidden menus and navigation “hamburger” icons make way for approaches that are even more simplistic, although this can alienate certain users.

Minimalism in digital design affects the way designers think about navigation. They treat it more as a design element, not an afterthought. 

It can animate in and out of the page design, allowing more content to be shown on the web page.

Simple UX and UI in web design
[Source: Libratone]

7 Advantages Of Minimalism In Web Design

By using the minimalist approach in web design, designers benefit from making websites that are effective for users as they are attractive.

Some of the key benefits of minimal web design are:

1. Ease Of Use

Simple interfaces, with no unnecessary buttons and complicated colors, allow for users to easily navigate them.

Results come out in an organized, easy to read style. This advantage comes down to good navigation systems, uncluttered text links and highlighted buttons that are important, making everything easy for users to scan and find what they need.

 

[Source: Google]
[Source: Google]

2. Good Accessibility

As the internet continues to grow, measures have to be taken for everyone to enjoy it. Websites should have clear and concise methods for those with disabilities to use the internet, such as:

  • Clear typography 
  • Strong iconography 
  • Vivid use of contrast

3. Minimalism Is Always Trendy

Minimalism is not prone to changing trends and it is applicable on desktop computers, mobile devices and even smartwatches.

It works on all platforms and is a part of a greater aesthetical movement that predates web design.

4. SEO Friendliness

Minimalist design is SEO-friendly because it allows search engines to crawl through and understand the website’s content more easily.

This results in greater visibility in search results. Google has openly declared that they award websites with clean coding and that are optimized for mobile.

This SEO aspect of minimalism means that a good website must be minimalistic in its backend as well, in terms of code it uses.

5. Increased Conversions

Cleaning out the unnecessary distractions in design is a proven way to increase eCommerce sites’ sales and other conversion points.

For instance, if you wish to increase a list of subscribers for your email newsletter, you shouldn’t have every element on a page compete with one another, because that will result in the subscribe box getting lost.

A good design practice suggests that you should create white space and a visual hierarchy so that users can sign up easily.

Also, bold imagery and eye-catching colors can co-exist with digital minimalism to highlight the most important sections.

Conversational boost by minimal web design
[Source: FOY]

6. Brand Awareness

As minimal design contributes to good SEO, consequently putting the website to the forefront of Google’s result, this affects the company name and image in a good way.

Certain brands, such as Apple, have taken minimalism to the core of their brand identity and made it their own. They apply their simple site design to their products and vice-versa, maintaining a very recognizable brand image.

7. Ease Of Maintenance

The minimal approach translates to a simpler design. This simpler design results in a cleaner build.

The less complicated the site design is, the easier it is to maintain it. This applies to removing a bug that causes errors as well as adding new content to the site.

Complex designs content numerous plugins, themes and elements that cause confusion and clutter the architecture of the website.

Minimalist Design Case Studies

Plenty of businesses have revamped their outdated web design to a more slick and streamlined minimalist design. Here are two examples of websites that reaped success with this minimal approach. 

SkinnyTies.com

This website has a high level of design fluency which makes it resonate well with users that are looking to find a product or a button.

The success fo this website’s design is that users need to invest minimal efforts into getting from point A to point B. This is vital for website metrics: when the user experience suffers, so does page dwell time, while drop rates increase.

SkinnyTies made a few changes that led to huge positive results:

  • They followed the prototype eCommerce layout theme
  • They used whitespace that made the website more open
  • Images feature a single product in hi-res quality and contrasting colors

This resulted in the following change in analytics stats:

  • Revenue growth for all devices of 42.4%
  • Conversion rate increase of 13.6%
  • Bounce rate lowered by 23,2%
  • Visit duration increased by 44.6%

BEFORE:

[Source: SkinnyTies]
AFTER:

[Source: SkinnyTies]

Botanica.com

Botanica.com has reached out to Forge&Smith agency to help them with their site rebrand in order to solidify their chances to grow.

They have already had great content a story to go with it, however, users had difficulties finding what they need in a quick and effortless manner.

The agency has implemented, very heavily, minimalistic colors, typography and the whole “less is more” approach in general.

This made it possible to showcase the products, guide users and boost conversion rates.

Some of the immediate and most impactful results achieved with this, in terms of SEO performance and better branding, were:

  • Site sessions rose 78%
  • Pageviews soared 102%
  • Organic search traffic climbed 55%

The new Botanica website implements minimalism through front and backend to help users get where they need to go. 

[Source: Botanica]

Takeaways On Minimalism In Web Design

Minimalism is a timeless concept that has gradually evolved from print and graphic design into the digital realm where it continues to expand and redefine functionality and aestheticism.

In terms of website design, minimalism has proven beneficial to both owners and users through its simplicity by:

  • Boosting conversion rates
  • Improving SEO rankings
  • Enhancing customer experience
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