Web Design Minimalism – Minimal or Just Dull?


Minimalism has recently extended itself into web design. The principles of minimalism are a bit more complex than “Less is Better”, but critics often consider that minimalism itself is overdone.

There’s no doubt that it’s cropping up as a frequent topic, and that the advocates of minimalism aren’t too “minimal” in expressing their views. There are technical issues, too, like how does SEO fit in to the concept of minimalism if it seems to be based on reducing content?

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Minimalism Basics


The idea of minimalism is actually an artistic and design concept. The theory is that clutter is counterproductive, and that more really isn’t better, reducing the impact of content. The idea in its artistic form translates into single images, often without background, and in its design form into bare surfaces, and sparse environments with only a few features.

Web design minimalism is expressed in single image and low text environments. It can literally be a background with one image. This is a very economic design model, in some cases, but the criticism is that it’s also risking a very bland look, and if not done well is just plain dull. It’s not an attention getter, and definitely doesn’t provide the sort of information which is considered “grabber” material in marketing.

Web Design Issues with Minimalism

Web Design Tips

Few web designers would argue with the de-cluttering concept, but most would debate the idea that content necessarily means clutter. “Thou shalt not clutter” is basic enough as a design principle, unless you’re trying for a sort of design collage or “image riot” effect.

A minimal design with a logo may be very symbolic, but does it tell the user they’ve found what they’re looking for? The other side of the equation in the debate about minimalism isn’t an artistic argument. It’s a series of practical issues in relation to dealing with the requirements of websites:

  • Can a form be minimal and still functional?
  • How about an online shop, where the bland face of the checkout is arguably more minimal than any minimal design?
  • What about the environment issues, and does creating a visual desert necessarily compensate the viewer?

Business Side of Web Design Minimalism

Website Designing

Will clients, who are paying for the privilege and have their own expectations, appreciate minimal formats? If they don’t, you as the web designer have the inevitable choice of explaining minimalism to the client, or doing the designs in line with the client’s wishes.

A Possible Middle-ground for Minimalist Web Designs

Ironically, minimalism includes at least one or two basic concepts which are in accord with normal design principles:

  • Application of single images for products is actually good practice in visual marketing, and lack of distraction means the image hits the viewer unimpeded.
  • Use of minimal but effective text is definitely better in terms of impact. The best hooks and catch phrases are usually brief.

The trick with minimal design is that you need to concentrate on search engine optimization to cover the marketing. Minimal design can create a good working base for development of design concepts, too.

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  1. Suraj May 15, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Nowadays minimalism became like online trend, every website and blog implementing minimal design. We also just changed our design to simple minimal design.

  2. Jay Bulsara May 15, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Very nice article! I am relatively new to the field of Web design (I’m still in high school), and I’m learning the concepts of minimal design. I found this very informative. Thanks!

  3. Kerrigan May 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Minimalism shouldn’t be a trend or a style. It should be applied to every design. You should take away until there is only what is needed.

    And that doesn’t mean that it needs to be a bare, white or monochrome design. It means that only the necessary elements are there. There aren’t gradients or patterns included that do not serve a purpose. It doesn’t make sense to have a hunting and fishing client and not use texture or dynamic color. It also doesn’t make sense to use texture or fleur de lis patterns for most tech companies.

    Personally I believe that designing a website should always take the approach of less is more, and that is always true.

    1. Ayaz Malik May 15, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Well said Kerrigan !

  4. Creative Designer May 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Minimalism for me is overdone. I mean we always say be simple but others make overly simple things that make the output bland. We must keep in mind that we can be simple but also incorporate excitement.

    1. Tayyab May 17, 2011 at 3:20 am

      @Creative Designer

      Nicely said, and I guess most of the designers would agree. Keeping the visitor excited is the most important thing.

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