Fundamentals of Minimalism in Design

When talking minimalism, simpler does not mean easier. In fact, it is extremely challenging to create great interactive web design with all the functionality users need and few extra elements, which is what minimalism strives toward. The great Antoine De Saint-Exuprery put it perfectly when he said “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away,” and the team at Oblique’s web design firm couldn’t agree more. We want to guide you through the primary elements of minimalism and what to remember when it comes to color, typography and whitespace. To get you in the right mindset, here is an example of how Apple masters minimalism.


Make Color Meaningful Again

When deciding on colors to use for your design, first decide what color means in this medium. Is it to draw attention to something? Is it meant to create a particular mood? Will the target audience relate to this color well? These will help you use the chosen colors consistently in the right location without overuse or confusion.

Color can also help create hierarchy without using additional visual hints. Try using a bold but simplified color scheme that will both accentuate the design’s intention and also blend well in the background. Be careful not to include too much color or create something too bold, it will take away from the design’s intent and can mask the content. It should be about finding a balance. Instead of using only black and white, think about  adding just the amount of color that the design requires.

Choose your Words Wisely

Minimalist philosophy centers on the idea that you must design around the content: content is king, and visual layout salutes the king. Minimalism is about using only what is essential to the design, so the words in the design are just as important as the typeface that they’re in. If the design is bold and simple, the copywriting should be as well. It should be clear what the user is supposed to do, where to do it and how to do it.

From there, readability and legibility are the most important. By all means, go forth and be bold, but do so with meaning and intent. For example, avoid using too many typefaces because the design can become cluttered. Instead, create consistency throughout the design with typography that relates each piece back to the same core.

Less, but Better

If you didn’t know already, whitespace is absolutely key to minimalist design. Through abundant space, the design can organize elements in a comprehensive order. It can also allow the design to guide the viewer toward the most important content. Just as with color and typography, there must always be intent and meaning behind every bit of empty space.

A grid system is the best tool to create spatial relationships and find the right balance between too much space and just enough space. It gives the eye a path to follow through the  content while also being visually pleasing. This should not be confused with adding “mystery” to the design, there should always be clarity, accessibility and functionality through every placement. Whitespace is an art on it’s own and takes practice to master. For more info and tips, check out The Next Web’s free ebook.

To Wrap Up

Don’t forget that the goal of minimalism is to only use elements that contribute to readability and usability. Using meaningful color, bold typography and consistent whitespace are all important pillars of the minimal technique and using these incorrectly can lead to over-designing and ultimately a dysfunctional design. Minimalism is not an easy task, but when mastered, it can lead to thoughtful, beautiful and rooted design, which is something every designer should strive for.

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