How to design minimalist websites

A minimalist site design for interactive agency We Are Sofa. Image by Patrick Haney

Tom Reynolds from digital agency SAS London discusses how less can be more when designing sites for clients.

Minimalist website design entails the removal of unnecessary elements to create simple, functional and elegant websites. Although getting minimalist website design right can be somewhat challenging, the finished product is usually worth the effort.

From business home pages to online art galleries, minimalism is suited to many types of website. With proper planning and some creative inspiration, minimalist websites can truly capture the viewer's attention. Here are some guidelines for designing clean and functional websites, and why less really can be more.

Design basics – wireframes

Wireframes help to clarify design ideas. Image by EMMEALCUBO

The first step for most designers when planning a website is to create a wireframe. A wireframe outlines the basic elements of a website, such as necessary structures and components, which is ideal for clarifying ideas. This can be anything from a rough sketch on a sheet of A4, to quality drawings with specialist software.

Wireframes can be an invaluable tool in conveying design concepts to clients in an easily understandable manner. Instead of verbally describing website ideas, this method of visualization makes communicating designs that much easier. Wireframes are especially useful for projects where clients have a clear direction of design in mind. A clearly defined wireframe can help guide the entire design process, ensuring that both website designer and client are satisfied.

Minimizing content

As mentioned before, minimalist web design is based on the premise of removing unnecessary aspects of a website, only leaving behind the most crucial elements that are needed for functionality. The best practice to achieve website minimalism is to use a simple and straight-forward layout. This means avoiding the likes of complex website navigation and multiple images.

Another important factor to consider when going for a minimalist approach is text. Large bodies of text spread across a website can be off-putting to the viewer, and severely detracts from the minimalist rationale. It is best to stick with short and concise pieces of text, avoiding flamboyant typography.

Colour schemes need to be taken into account also. Use colour sparingly within the website to help emphasise key areas without being too distracting. Omit all superfluous elements of a website and leave behind only what is needed, which allows you to achieve that minimalist aesthetic whilst maintaining a user-friendly interface.

Creating a focal point

Websites need to grab the viewer's attention almost immediately. An effective way of doing this is by creating a prominent focal point within the website. The focal point needs to be some kind of eye-catching centrepiece that will interest visitors. This could be an image or small body of text, depending on the type of website in question. The rest of the page needs to lend itself to the focal point without competing with it.

Minimalist design, when done properly, can truly make a website stand out from the crowd. With a simple and functional site, communicating key information to visitors becomes more straight-forward. From wireframe blueprints to using focal points, minimalist web design should be approached with careful planning and subtle creativity.

Tom Reynolds works for SAS London, the digital agency working with clients on employer branding, employee communications and digital communications projects. Tom’s main responsibility is to follow new design trends, work with clients on new ideas that can attract their target audience with high conversion rate.

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