Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Minimalist Design?

Minimalist Design?

Minimalist design has been described as design at its most basic, stripped of superfluous elements, colors, shapes and textures.

Its purpose is to make the content stand out and be the focal point. From a visual standpoint, minimalist design is meant to be calming and to bring the mind down to the basics.

The design movement began in Switzerland and was then applied to a variety of media: graphic design, architecture, music, literature, painting and, more recently, web design.

Although minimalist design took off decades ago, the early days of the Internet did not show it. Even without the rotating logos, marquees and bright colors, website designs were cluttered and overbearing.

We’ll go over the basic principles of minimalist design. But even if you choose not to pursue a minimalist aesthetic, the lessons here can help you simplify your design, whatever your style.


Less Is More

“Less is more” is probably the most well-known catch phrase of the minimalist movement. It was popularized by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in describing the minimalist aesthetic.

In Web design, less is more is achieved by using only elements that are necessary to a given design. Using less to achieve an effect that’s more than the sum of the design’s parts is the goal.



How to Minimize Content

The first step to creating a minimalist design, or just simplifying a layout, is not simply to cut out most of the graphics, but rather to rethink the content and strip it to the bare requirements. Only then will the most important elements on the page achieve their intended effect.

Just as you would plan any website, write down what content you need: logo, introduction, navigation, etc. Cut out anything else that is not essential. Throw out as much as possible.

Below are some elements you probably do not need. Keep in mind that this is just a guide. Your exact requirements will depend on your particular design. Some of the items below may not be required for your website.

-Icons or graphics for social media, or a social media section at all
- Taglines and supplementary descriptions or introductions
    “Featured,” “Popular” and “Recent” lists (including Twitter and RSS feed lists)
- Pages with more than three major sections (e.g. “Introduction,” “About” and “Services”)
    Secondary navigation pages.

The point here is not to make the website less functional, but rather to cut out unnecessary elements (and thus highlight the necessary ones) or to combine sections into a simpler layout (for example, by incorporating your social media links into the “About” or introductory section).

You could also divide content into separate pages, giving each piece of content more attention.

How to Simplify the Design

Now it’s time to simplify the design as much as possible.

Minimalist designs should have little texture, color, shape, lines, content or type. Go too bare, though, and the design will be boring. Rather than dumping everything out, give the design appeal by making just one important feature the focal point.

Choose what that focus will be, and keep the tips below in mind as you work through your design.

Use a Great Wireframe

In browsing the showcase section below, we see that some designers have added visual interest with subtle bursts of color, unique typography or interesting shapes. Perhaps the most important element they have all relied on, though, is a unique wireframe.

Creating a wireframe for such a bare page requires a bit of extra attention. With the correct wireframe, you can achieve the right hierarchy and organization and create visual interest.


To come up with a wireframe, follow these steps:

-Decide on what content you absolutely need
- In a list, prioritize the content
- Sketch a few wireframes based on your list to experiment with the best visual hierarchy.

When working out the wireframe, consider placement but also visual treatment. For example, if your logo has a color that you do not reuse elsewhere in the design, you have to account for that.
White Space

White space is practically synonymous with minimalism.

No matter how creative you are with it, a minimalist design without plenty of white space is not really minimalist at all. So, be sure to add more white space around elements than you normally would.

The space is needed to balance the few elements that will appear on the page.
Balance, Alignment, Contrast

While much of the load can be carried by white space and a good wireframe, special care should be taken with the fundamentals of design. The three biggest related to minimalism are balance, alignment and contrast.

Be sure that your design adheres to these principles and that it does not need supplementary visual aids to look “finished.”

Design Principles

Keep other basic design principles in mind, too. Review them and experiment with different options to achieve the best result. Check out “The Principles of Design” for more ideas.
When Over-Designing Becomes a Habit

Over-designing sometimes becomes a habit. No matter how hard you try to keep a design simple, it comes out messy and complex. To fix this, we must form new habits.

Try reviewing the tips above before each project to keep them in mind during the process. Focus on developing one habit at a time. For example, work on reducing and simplifying the content before moving on to white space.

If you find yourself in a tough spot thinking, “Something’s missing,” first try taking something out, rather than putting something new in.

Every aspect of minimalism requires a different talent. Your designs will become simpler the more you put these principles into practice.

Taking it further, once you have applied the techniques discussed here, look at the finished product and see if you can find ways to simplify the result even further.



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