Essential Principles for Creating Minimalist Web Design

The history of minimalism date back to the 1960’s, it was first seen through art that was inspired by the modernist movement (society moving in to the western world in the late 19th century). Minimalism was also a reaction and revolt of Abstract art and expressionism.

Here is an example of minimalistic art:

Piet Mondrian, Composition 10, 1939–1942, private collectionPiet Mondrian, Composition 10, 1939–1942, private collection

Minimalism has had a long, powerful history and has brought us some of the most beautiful art ever made. Back then artists from all backgrounds believed that eliminating non-essential features of their subject exposed essence and identity. This movement rapidly spread to the work of architects, musicians, play writers and more.

Today minimalism is one of the most widely used design principles and can be conveyed through various art and design related fields, from movie posters, fashion, print adverts, games, business cards and brochures.

The role of minimalism is very strong in web design with the help of companies like Apple. Apple has helped expose minimalism in to the 20th century by the way their website, branding and devices were  stripped down to show only its necessary elements, the less is more statement has never been so popular.

Apple

How minimal is minimal?

Everyone has a different perception as to how minimal a web design should be. Some people think web designs with colour are not minimal whilst others believe a minimal website should contain very few visual elements. Whichever you believe minimalism design requires certain essential principles in order to be conveyed effectively. This is because minimalism in web design should only take away elements until nothing else can be removed without affecting the purpose of the web design.

A lot of thought and planning needs to go in to handpicking design elements required to make a web design function, only these elements should be visible. Below is a list of the essential principles for creating minimalist web design.  We hope you will find them useful in planning and preparing your next minimalist web design.

Why should you use minimalism in web design?

Using the minimalist concept in web design represents modern design. By only focusing on the content and branding the web design will reflect its main goal or mission without any other distracting elements.  Here is how you can benefit from using minimalism in your web design:

  1. Better usability and user experience
  2. Less CSS and Html rules and elements
  3. Less coding is required
  4. Better front end performance

Remove unnecessary elements

It’s important to research and understand the purpose of your website before removing any elements. With this in mind it will be easier to evaluate the importance of certain features.  To help decide what to remove just stick to the basic fundamental features of your website.

Remove unnecessary elements

This minimal example is so basic that it draws the user in to the content instantly.  The websites purpose is to showcase the various projects created by the designer and minimal look makes the titles stand out. The whole concept works effectively here.

The role of white space in minimalist web design

The elements chosen to display on a minimalist web design must have enough white space in between to make users think the web design is larger, this effect emphasis your other elements making your content look clearer and easier for your users to digest.

White space can also be referred to as negative space or empty space, this is a key principal as white spacing acts as a back bone to the whole design concept. You must put a lot of thought in to what you leave out as well as what you put in.

White space is one of the more fundamental principles and is what makes up and defines minimalism.

The role of white space in minimalist web designThis grid style web design showcases the art of white space. Each box is equally spaced out, this gives the whole web design a fantastic balance. The text is inserted in to one of the boxes, altogether they make the web design work.

The use alignment

Alignment in minimalism organises and arranges your design. This helps to provide the relevant amount of white space and makes it easier for users to absorb key information. Alignment can be achieved effectively with the use of grid layouts.

This example shows us how alignment is an important principle in minimalistic web design. The content is broken down in to digestible amounts and split up. The white space in between the alignment of the content gives a perfect balance.

The use alignment

Colour in minimalist web design

Colour in minimalism helps to reinforce specific elements, emphasising those that require more attention in order for a user to easily navigate. It’s important to use a simple palette and very few colours. Using a single colour will contrast beautifully and can have a strong impact on your overall design.

typographicaThis example is slightly busier when compared to the others. What’s interesting is the way the designers have incorporated colour only on the logo and products. This is a very clever effect as it will make users instantly drawn to those elements.  The contrasting tones on the logo work effectively and stand out beautifully.

ArtypapersThis example uses colours like pink and black to add emphasis on the content titles and name of website. The use of colour is very subtle and selective. Users will be instantly drawn to the main logo “Artypapers”.

Emphasise key elements

Since you have to leave out as much as possible it is important you emphasis the remaining elements. Experiment the effect of different typography styles, focus on the detail of adding different colours and the size of all these elements. When they all come together the elements will support the overall design.

Emphasise key elementsThis example displays a number of different typography styles. The designer of this website has focused on adding more detail to the font and alignment of content.  It works really well.

Repeat

Repetition in minimalism helps to provide consistency in web design. This principal should be used to reinforce shapes and icons, you can use this is almost any area of your design.

RepeatThis example shows the repetition of the arrows and block page elements, these elements provide fantastic consistency.

Summary

The essential principles for creating minimalist web design are a fantastic guide. By stripping down designs I believe a web design’s mission will work better, there will be no distractions because there is less to see.

Using the principles above can help you create a great minimalistic design but it is also important to pay attention to the balance of your remaining elements.

I have an eye for art and all its forms; it has been the foundation of my marketing and design career. Writing for DesignModo will help strengthen my skills and make me a better writer, designer and marketer. Originally from India, my family made their way down to London, UK where I was born and now live.

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12 Comments
  1. Chris Allen Feb 2, 12:03 am

    Great article Neeru! Minimalism is all about clarity of presentation and information accessibility. With the increasing popularity of information on the web being consumed on smaller screened devices that clear presentation of content is becoming even more crucial. I believe that is why minimalistic design is so prevalent in responsive web design; another design principle gaining popularity today and still evolving.

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  2. Nora Reed Feb 2, 9:55 am

    Great post, literally i didn’t know about the history of minimal designs… After read this post i get some useful and details about minimal !! thank u .

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  3. E-Technologies Feb 2, 11:01 am

    Great and wow ! article. As a website designer, I do agree with you Mr. Chris Allen, now almost companies are prefer Minimalism because this presents each and everything very clearly and properly. This article is also helpful many website designer to know about this.

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  4. Website Package Expert Feb 2, 9:05 pm

    Minimalist design is in but do you think it’s a fad? Minimalist is “in” in many design industries but how long it will last I’m not sure. Even if it goes out of style, I’m sure many websites will still use it just like many still use frames now.

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  5. Naïa Feb 2, 9:15 pm

    I think we have to take the best of “minimalist” webdesign : clarity and hierarchy of information. It is a invitation to work more about the ergonomics or the “way” the reader will follow… BUT I think just few typographics with white background is not really visually appealing and don’t transmit a real “identity” (for a brand for example).

    Maybe in few years, minimalist webdesign won’t be the trend anymore.

    (I hope you will understand me. I know I’m not really good with this language.)

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  6. Phillip Patterson Feb 2, 9:51 pm

    Great article, I really enjoyed it.

    I’d like to point out though that I noticed several spelling mistakes throughout. I’m not trying to be negative or nasty but, I believe that these kinds of mistakes can really damage the overall effectiveness of an article and even drive readers away from a website. I just thought I’d raise that point for you.

    Let me say again though that I really enjoyed the article, it’s an interesting read.

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  7. Bill Feb 2, 11:13 pm

    I laughed all the way through as I was forced to navigate my past at least 20 ads just to read the first 20 words! Minimalism indeed!

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    +1
  8. Carla Feb 5, 3:12 pm

    Web design, part of the larger discipline of graphic design, is a tool to show or advertise a specific content not to create a container which distracts from this aim. I therefore believe that the best websute designs are the minimalist ones. Yes, a
    Apple is a great example. You see their products and perceive their brand. We, at Turchini Design, believe that the message is bigger than the messanger.

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  9. Byron Edwards Feb 5, 4:22 pm

    Just a quick heads up – Summery = The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day etc. Summary = brief roundup

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  10. Rachael Feb 6, 11:57 am

    Interesting read, although most of these ideas should be applied in all designs, not just minimalist ones, alignment is especially important in every design, if this is missed out designs will just look messy and that not enough thought has been put into the design.

    I always try to ask myself, what needs to be on the page, what can you create links to elsewhere, rather than repeat yourself. This way although it may not strictly be a ‘minimal’ design you are creating, you are keeping your design as clean and as clutter free as possible.

    There’s some good examples to back up your points here, thanks for the article.

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  11. Daniel Apr 25, 2:24 am

    Sure you got your centuries right? For instance, “20th century” is from January 1, 1901 to December 31, 2000. So when you talk of Apple Inc., you probably mean 21th century?

    Nice article though.

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