The Do’s and Don’ts for Minimalist Web Design

Minimalism is the art of keeping things simple. For some people, it’s a way of life, and it keeps the clutter out of their living space while directing their focus to what’s truly important to a happy home. Minimalist web design doesn’t mean a lack of design, but that every element has a particular purpose — or else it isn’t included.

According to Statista, there are around 1.72 billion registered websites. The designs used on this massive number of sites vary from busy to simple. You’ll find every shade of the rainbow. Layouts can be asymmetrical or grid-style. Not every website is your direct competition, but you are vying for the attention of a limited pool of humans on the internet. People only have so much time in the day, so your site needs to be simple enough to navigate but enjoyable enough to engage users.

Minimalist Web Design Do’s

When done correctly, a minimalist web design is gorgeous. However, it can also look awful if you don’t utilize the right elements. Understanding the do’s of minimalist design is an integral part of building a simple website that works for users.

Do: Cut the Clutter

Over time, web developers add elements to the homepage and overall website. Every component seems worthwhile at first, but they can begin bulking up the site until you can’t find anything easily. Stop and ask what the primary purpose is for each page of your website. Anything not moving the user toward the objective needs to go or at least be hidden from the landing page.

The Oyster & Fish House keeps things quite simple. When you land on their page, you see an image of their establishment and a headline with their name. The only CTA above the fold is the invite to “Book a Table,” and they point out that their fish is locally sourced.

Do: Balance White Space

Fans of minimalism understand the importance of balancing positive and negative space. The best minimalistic designs have an abundance of space around a few key elements. Adding negative space focuses on the handful of features on your page rather than forcing the user to scan over endless images and text to find what they want. When you include only the essential things, you automatically have more room for spacing around those items.

Do: Align on a Grid

While you can create an asymmetrical layout and use minimalist elements, it sometimes comes off as incomplete. Unless you are a highly skilled designer who’s worked with minimal designs for an extended period, it’s best to stick to a grid for your site. Boxed content keeps things neat and uncluttered. Grids also create automatic white space around each element on your page.

WAC Lighting uses a grid layout to highlight photos of their beautiful products. Note the monochrome effect of the images. They all have shades of gray, although a few have pops of color. The gray and white show off the lighting while keeping the design minimal. Each image fits in a box, creating a sharp, organized look.

Do: Try New Trends

New trends come and go in web design. Many incorporate nicely into a minimalist approach. For example, you can use gradients by limiting the number of shades you choose. Animation is fine, but don’t get too elaborate with it. You don’t want users to grow frustrated and bounce away from your site. The user experience should be as simple as possible.

Do: Choose Colors Wisely

Yes, you can use colors with minimalist web design. You can’t use all the colors of the rainbow, but you can certainly choose two or three shades. Use one main color as your base and add the others as accents. The shades should complement one another. If you use only two hues, go for contrasting colors such as black and white or navy blue and pale yellow.

Maggie Rose keeps their colors at a minimum. The background is a similar shade to the model’s skin tone in the hero shot. Her hair is a bit darker but still in the same color family. They then use a stripe of green in place of her hair on the left to indicate natural ingredients. The text and link options are minimal. If you pay attention to these crucial elements in your design, the rest of the features should fall into place naturally. Remember to keep your objective in mind as you design your pages.

Don’ts for Minimalist Design

Just as there are some clear do’s for minimalist design, there are some big no’s.

Don’t: Choose Bold Fonts

When you have a limited design, you might feel tempted to ramp things up with unique typography. Unfortunately, this can ruin the effect of your minimalist design and distract from the serenity of the look. Stick with fonts familiar to the user. You don’t want your type to distract from the goal of the page. Avoid script, hand-drawn and specialty fonts for the most part.

Don’t: Pack Everything Into the Nav Bar

You’ve limited the choices on your page, so it is tempting to push all the elements into the navigation bar. After all, the user can still access your amazing features from there. For a great minimalist design, you must also keep your menu basic. Go for only four or five categories. Avoid mega menus. Think about the areas visitors go to most often on your site and highlight those.

Don’t: Lose Clarity for Simplicity

Be careful not to make your design so basic that you forget to indicate what the user should do next. Be aware of the buyer’s journey and what the next step is. Is it clear what movement the user needs to take to get from Point A to Point B? You don’t want to be obscure at all on your website. Doing so makes for a negative user experience. Use your best judgment. If something isn’t working for your users, fix it.

Focus on the Customer Experience

No matter what design style you choose, the customer experience (CX) should always come first. If your minimalist design confuses your users, make changes until you hit on the right combination. Look for clutter and ways to reduce the page load times. Anything you can do to create a positive CX for your site visitors improves their chances of turning into leads.

Author Bio

Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She constantly researches trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

Read next: 10 Basics of Graphic Design: Best Tips for Beginners

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