It only seems appropriate that on the 25th anniversary year of the World Wide Web, we should take a moment to celebrate the evolution of website builders - the unsung heroes of the internet and pioneers in user-generated content. For those of us over the age of 20, the Internet might still be fondly remembered as a mysterious, nebulous network of disparate information, a gateway to walls of text and bouncing GIFs punctuated by a theme song of high pitched, screeching, dial tones. Pages took several...
Stop Overwhelming Users: How to Embrace Minimal Web Design
We get it, you’re excited about your new project, but there just never seems to be enough space on a website to tell visitors all about it. Soon, what started out as simple, elegant, streamlined web design has become a content monster, with words and pictures and calls-to-action flung at visitors from all sides as soon as they arrive. Adding content can be like an addiction (or maybe an overly opinionated guest at a dinner party): there always seems to be room for one more thing.
Think of this blog as an intervention. Instead of piling more and more information onto your visitor’s shoulders, consider breaking content down into bite-sized pieces, and only showing what your visitors tell you is important. Websites are made with multiple pages, navigation bars, and other organising formats so that a visitor can find a piece of information only when it’s relevant for them.
How to Go Minimal
First things first, get organised. Whether you’re improving a pre-existing website or starting from scratch, planning every dimension of your site beforehand will pay off. If you’re collaborating with other people, come to an agreement early on about what should be immediately visible to users. Make a diagram of three key points of your design, and stick to them.
Kayla Knight over at WebDesignerDepot goes further in her ideas about how to go minimal. She suggests picking a single focal point and orienting everything on your site from here. This makes sense in terms of content and aesthetics, as too much variety in too little space can be confusing to readers.
If you can’t figure out what your main points of reference could be, experiment. Collect data using site analysis tools and find out where users are clicking or spending the most time. If, for example, users are searching high and low for your phone number but are never clicking on the “our story” button on your home page, it might be time to re-prioritise.
Get Organized: Instead of piling on content as you go, make a clear design and content guidleline before you get started designing – and stick to it.
Pick a Focal Point: Choose one aspect of the page you want to let shine.
Be Consistent: One of the worst ways to clutter a site is with design inconsistency. Choose a single format, colour scheme, and font scheme, then follow it religiously.
Use Data: Use data from Google Analytics and other site analysis tools to find out what your users are interacting with most, and make this visible. If, for example, users are focusing on an area that you don’t think is too important while ignoring a crucial piece of content, consider switching them up, or getting rid of the unimportant piece of information altogether.
The Champions of Minimal Design
There are plenty of examples of beautiful minimal design to choose from when it comes to re-thinking your own site, here are some of our favourites:
Deryne made big, artfully-taken photographs of their family-run restaurant, their menu, and their suppliers the focus of their site. Information about their restaurant, their bakery, and the history of their Budapest bistro elegantly tucked in the bottom right. The site is well-organized, offering short yet descriptive information about all aspects of the business, as well as videos and menu information when necessary. Even their “find us” page comes off as minimal despite having social media, Google Maps, press, and job information on one page.
Tarian is a Parisian eye-glass brand with a knack for exquisite detail and perfect finishing. For their website, Tarian also chose a simple and visual design, with a large cover photo over a white background. As you move deeper into the site, though, you really get a sense for the site’s simplicity. Images of Tarian’s spectacles are given the space to shine, with little to no other information needed. Because Tarian does not sell online, information about thier showroom is clearly present on the landing page.
BUBGreat used a minimal black and white (with a hint of red) design scheme for their yourth wellness programme website, with a bold headline, navigation bar front and centre, and promotional video as the key focal points of their site. Big, custom images (no stock photography here), serve to communicate to visitors that BUBGreat is a community effort, and their navigation menu neatly organises all the information about the initiative needed, including social media links and program information. What’s more, BUBGreat use a long-form landing page, so that navigation from page to page on the website is kept to a minimum.