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“Best Practices for Minimalist Website Design”

Minimalism, the art of less, is a popular modern design approach. Experimenting with colors, transitions, navigation, broken composition, or even the complete removal of all elements – there are more ways to implement minimalism than you can imagine.

In this article, we explore minimalism as it’s applied in digital product design, going over its main principles and elements and illustrating them with real-life examples of stunning minimalist websites.

But first…

What is minimalism?

The main principles of minimalism in web design:

  • user-friendly interface;
  • hidden navigation;
  • no more than three colors at once;
  • lots of empty space;
  • experimentation with fonts;
  • no excess detail: color transitions, shadows, textures;
  • no extra buttons.

Minimalism in web design means simplifying the interface by removing unnecessary elements.

In the other words, do more with less.

If you’re wondering what other benefits minimalism can offer besides just being beautiful, here’s our list of reasons for you to consider making a minimalist website:

  1. Minimalism is trendy, and it’s going to stay trendy for a while.
  2. Minimalist websites are easy to make responsive.
  3. With fewer objects on the page, minimalist websites load faster.
  4. Minimalism allows users to concentrate all their attention on the product or service you sell.
  5. Minimalism makes navigation intuitive.
Source: studiorotate.com

Although minimalist websites are quite easy to create and maintain, even experienced designers can make the following two mistakes:

  • Making products that look unfinished because they don’t think through the design thoroughly.
  • Hiding important navigation buttons in favor of minimalism, making for an uncomfortable user experience.

Achieving minimalism

There are a few key practices that can help you create stunning minimalist websites, applications, and other digital products.

Use whitespace

Whitespace, or negative space (which would be the more appropriate design term), is the space between elements in a composition. There are many benefits to using whitespace, but first and foremost, it improves the user experience and concentrates attention on webpage content and your product.

Source: marielaurent.fr

Whitespace adds balance to a design. By being conscious about what occupies the space between your website’s main content blocks, you can make your site captivate readers, inviting them to stay longer and scroll further.

Having a lot of whitespace is one of the main tricks to a minimalist style.

Look at the beautiful implementation of whitespace on the website of Thomas Slack, an LA fashion and portrait photographer. There’s nothing to distract users from the inspiring beauty of his work.

Source: tomkellyslack.com

Use bright colors

Although bright colors are certainly fun, implementing them in minimalism can be tricky. Vivid backgrounds call for attention and capture the user’s gaze. But too much color and the background isn’t captivating anymore – it’s just irritating.

Source: madebyfieldwork.com

When using bright colors, mix them up with more soothing, toned-down complementary hues, throw in some black or white typography, and have yourself a beautiful bright product like the examples above and below.

Also, try and avoid complex animations, sharp transitions between content blocks and funky fonts.

Remember: minimalism is the art of less. You should choose one thing and concentrate on it to the fullest. Here, color alone is more than enough.

You can see El Burro following this advice with their bright warm colors, bold black Sans Serif fonts and simple, smooth animations.

Also, can we just take a moment to talk about their amazing thematic preloader? We’ve collected a whole bunch of preloaders to show you a variety of ways to make your website entertaining.

Source: elburro.no

Go fancy with fonts

Beautiful bold fonts are one of the main trends in the 2018 web design arena. You can go as creative as you want here; just make sure that the font is easy to read and really catches the attention of your users.

When it comes to minimalism, efficient use of typography can compensate for sparse usage of imagery and animations, making your website visually attractive. Fonts create hierarchy, telling your visitors what’s important and helping them navigate the pages.

It’s important to keep in mind that the way fonts are displayed on mobile screens will reflect on the overall usability of your product. According to Statista, between 2009 and 2017, more than 50% of all webpages were created with a mobile-first approach. And with the abundance of mobile devices on the market, this trend is likely to continue.

Apart from this, in 2018 Google is going to present its new Mobile First Index, which will place more importance on a website’s mobile version, placing mobile sites at the top of search results. This means that mobile-friendly is a must for websites that want to be seen by search engines.

Sans Serif fonts are the best choice when it comes to creating a minimalist website just because of how crisp and clean they tend to look. You can find more information on fonts and how they influence user perception in our article about designing a medical application.

Here are some creative studios that have successfully implemented bright bold fonts in their homepage designs.

Source: coopbrand.co
Source: danilodemarco.com

Font size is another important aspect of minimalist design, especially if there aren’t many other elements on the page. Using small fonts can be a great way of presenting information without taking up too much space. However, be careful, as small text can easily get lost on the page and make the design appear dirty and distracting.

Look at the example below, a website that belongs to the FactoryDowntown artist management agency. Although it looks stylish and minimalist, the black font they use on the white background can be hard to read on some magazine covers. Another interesting detail is that sometimes letters cover models’ faces and magazine titles, which in a way communicates that the work was done by this particular agency.

We can’t just leave the website without mentioning the great solution they implemented for the “Artists” menu, but telling you why it’s worth mentioning wouldn’t be fair. Go check it out yourself!

Source: factorydowntown.com

Combine text blocks

To create an effortless effect, divide your textual content into blocks. Blocks help users perceive text better and add lightness to the overall design.

According to George A. Miller, one of the founders of cognitive psychology who also contributed to psycholinguistics and studies of human memory and communication, short-term memory can only hold seven pieces of information at once, plus or minus two. You can read Miller’s original article if you want, but the takeaway is the following: the more pieces of information you add to your user interface, the more difficult it will be to work with, especially the first time.


Organize segments of information in categories of no more than nine but preferably five chunks.

On the where Mountains Meet website, you can see a good example of grouping information in blocks.

Source: wheremountainsmeet.com

Set up navigation

The main way of creating a minimalist vibe is to remove every excess, but sometimes designers can go a bit too far, removing most website navigation buttons. Although it does make sense to remove rarely used elements, make sure that you aren’t hiding links and instruments that are important to your users.

Our advice is to leave the Menu button untouched and encapsulate the rest of the navigation buttons inside it. The Homepage button can be hidden in the company logo.

Apart from that, make sure that buttons are highlighted in some way when pointed at so users know that they’re actually clickable.

Visual Soldiers does a great job implementing these techniques:

Source: visualsoldiers.com


“Subtract it till it breaks” is the favorite mantra of many minimalist designers. What it really means is unless the absence of some element is a serious problem, go ahead and get rid of it.

The two following websites demonstrate great ways of displaying your Menu, including links to social networks and important pages.

Source: talkd.co
Source: ananas-anam.com

The two following websites demonstrate great ways of displaying your Menu, including links to social networks and important pages.

Source: bedow.se

On the other hand, here’s a website that really makes you work to find its valuable information, such as the company’s mission statement and the Menu button:

Of course, you could just say this is a necessary design quirk, but the idea is that design shouldn’t just look cool; it should also be usable. Nothing new, we know; but keep it in mind all the same.

Carefully choose images

The power that beautiful images have over people isn’t just scientifically proven, it’s the very reason why there’s a whole industry dedicated to design.

Use large and bright HD photos to create an emotional connection between your website and your users, setting up a special vibe. However, remember that images shouldn’t be used as decorations only but should also display whatever product or service you’re offering.

Source: supercrowds.co
Source: sense-6.com

Add small details

No trend can survive if it doesn’t adapt over time. Minimalism has managed to stay current for so long because it’s flexible and can be rearranged to meet new needs. Designers experiment and change the traditional view on minimalist websites by adding small details. These can be non-functional elements used to attract attention.

Flying decorative signs, underlining, geometric objects, and fragments are becoming increasingly popular as they add something special to the design and serve to balance out content, separate it, or point toward it.

Use tiny details such as pointers to direct attention or separate the main content.

Source: airtable.com

Small details can be used as an element of decor for images and typography. Sometimes they follow scrolling or the mouse pointer, attracting attention.

Whenever you add small elements, do so in a way that doesn’t interfere with navigation.

Source: teleset.plus

Conclusion

Minimalist design has been among the most popular design approaches for a long time, and this trend is likely to continue. Designers enjoy going for minimalism, shifting away from content overload and some of the heavier design types.

Minimalism is simple only at first glance; in order to make it light and user-friendly you need to think each element through very thoroughly. Never sacrifice usability for the sake of visuals, organize your content, and strive to create a more efficient path across the website.

SteelKiwi’s hands-on experience with minimalist websites

You can see how we’ve implemented this advice by visiting our SteelKiwi Behance and Dribbble pages. Go check them out if you’re looking for some inspiration to create your own stunning designs. Here’s a list of minimalist projects we’ve completed recently:

  1. LifelyMeal, a catering service;
  2. Harmony, an online store selling household appliances:
  3. An eCommerce UI for a furniture store;
  4. Snow Sensei, a platform for finding skiing and snowboard instructors and mountain guides at Japanese resorts.

If you’ve been left with any unanswered questions or you wish to create a minimalist website of your own, don’t hesitate to contact one of our sales representatives so we can discuss the details of your project.