This site is about doing things at their most basic level. A focus on simple design that pays off. Be it in the way we live, design or the products we use, simplicity helps us get things done.

Minimalistic Design

Minimalistic Design Is An Art

A website design should give users some kind of experience when they visit it. The design itself should give the site a personality all on its own. This personality however should not get in the way of the true purpose of a site, which is for the users to use. I am not a minimalist person by any means even though I pretend to be. Many of my friends will tell you that they did not get to like me until they really got to know me. With websites you might not have the luxury of users coming back to get to “know” the site.

Minimalism allows users to use the site. It allows users to use the site through great usability and really does not cause the user to put much thought into what he has to do to get the job done. Once you add the word “design” to minimalist then you are taking things to a higher level. Minimalist design does not mean white backgrounds or two column layouts. Minimalist design means that everything on the page serves a specific function without hindering the users experience or getting in the way of the message that the site is trying to deliver.

Many clients will not see the beauty of a great minimalistic site because to them they are plain and for their own personal reasons they may want something cool to show their friends. Show them 2advanced and they start drooling. The problem with basing your opinions solely on the “look” of a site is that aesthetics are all relative to how the individual sees them. Many will agree that certain minimalistic sites are beautiful because they are “clean” and place form with function, not over. Everyone I know likes a clean site.

Apple designs minimalistic computers, but not too many people go around shouting about how ugly they are. I would even argue that VolksWagen makes minimalist cars. The point is minimalism can be plain, but good minimalistic design is not.

Could this site use a little more color to add some emotion to it? Most definitely. Would it hurt to add an image here or there for visual appeal? No it would not. But until I find some other colors that go along with the message of the site or some images that do not take away from the content this site will remain the way it is. Surprisingly (or not) much thought went into this design. From the logo, to the header colors, to the fonts, and where borders should be added. Designing a minimalistic site is not hard. However, designing a minimalistic site that offers a great experience is. I am not defending the look of this site because it is my site and everyone has their opinions. I am defending my ideals of minimalism and why I hold it in such great regard.

The absolute most challenging thing is to do something simple. Because simple has to be perfect. If it’s not perfect you see it a mile away. It’s easier to create something complex, which of course can be really interesting, but for me, always feels like a more subjective solution.

I can not recall where I got that quote from, but I know it was from a famous graphic designer and it certainly struck a chord with me.

Different Designs For Different Sites

Not all sites should get the minimalistic treatment. There is a good reason why 37signals does not have any multimedia sites in their portfolio. They just do not do that type of stuff. That is not their specialty. I design towards my strengths and so should everyone else. Just please do not think that just because a site is minimalistic that it did not take the same amount of time or even more time to design than “complex” sites.

If you need some inspiration for minimalistic sites that offer great visual appeal then maybe you can have a look at these:

  • Lambertin & Grotegerd
  • Red Envelope
  • Dirk Hesse

If you think any of those sites are unappealing then fine, obviously we just have different design tastes. But they are all minimal because they serve their purpose and there is nothing I can see that I would take out from them to enhance the design. That to me is minimalism at its best.

Looking at a rainbow I see seven color bands that come together to form something beautiful. There is nothing complex about a rainbow and yet it is beautiful. Ever witness a sunrise/sunset at the beach? There are 4 main elements at work here: water, horizon, sun, and sky. Four things is all that are required to make something beautiful. I am not a minimalistic individual, but I sure do love minimalistic things.

6 Responses to “Minimalistic Design”

  1. deus62 Says:

    This is frightening. I’ve actually come back here to check several times, but I’m still stunned. Ever since early 2004, and next to many other projects I’ve been working on since then, I’ve been toiling on a design that, I’m sorry to say that now, resembles this one so much that I’m afraid of putting it online.

    It’s got a bit more on it, (a very subdued header to give the reader a chance to skip to my other three sites), but down to the color scheme (I use a link color which is more orange than yours) and the layout (mine’s a bit wider I think … haven’t checked yet), things are so much alike that I think you might be my lost twin.

    The most frightening aspect is that after having tried a thousand designs for the navigation at the top, I had this glorious idea: Why not put a text at the top, three lines or so, including three (!) links to the various sections.


    I should have gone online earlier.

    I’ll get in touch with you when done to see if you might have problems with the similarities. Might tweak some stuff to take out the identical-twin look … or maybe I’ll just trash it altogether.

    On a different note: The design ideas/principles I found here mirror my own down to a “T”. After having designed I don’t how many “loaded” sites which looked really gorgeous (I started working around the time when glassdog was still online with a good designer forum), I found myself reducing my designs more and more.

    I’m now getting into the standards field of things and the design mentioned above was my playground. I think I might have tweaked a bit too long.

    Nevertheless, I love this site and the very few others available that either you or others have linked to here or elsewhere, and in the long run, I think it’s the way to go. Maybe I’m spoiled because I look at sites with different eyes, but if I have to look at another one of those 2advanced sites or, even worse, another one of those two-column/three-column standards weblogs (loved them in the beginning, find them totally boring now) the usual sites link to, I’m going to screaaaaam!

    My 2c.

    Keep it up!

    Greetings from Germany.

  2. Whitespace Says:

    Simpl(e)y Done

    Back in November of 2003 I started a little experiment. I created a web design company site along with a blog with the intentions of seeing how easy it would be to acquire new clients from a really simple design…

  3. deus62 Says:

    Time to trash it then, I guess. *lol*

  4. Scrivs Says:

    No need to trash anything. It’s not like this design could be considered copyrighted or anything. It’s a logo and some word crafted to perfection providing a wonderful environment for anyone to read and enjoy.

  5. deus62 Says:

    Yep, true.

    I’ll copy it then.

  6. pixelenator Says:

    Yep, I mean just take a look at macromedia’s website, talking about somebody who likes flash !!! but it’s still so simple..

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