Clichés typically become clichés for a reason: because there is some element of truth to them. “Less is more” certainly follows that rule. While it is an overused phrase, the minimalism implied by “less is more” is an important maxim to follow in web design.
A minimalist design has several benefits for your web site. First and foremost, it allows your content to be the focal point because all the visual clutter has been eliminated. This also clears up confusion by guiding people right to the important stuff.
Minimalism can also be important in driving traffic to your site. A good web site should be almost intuitive to use—consumers shouldn’t have to think about what to click on to get to the page they need. Using fewer elements in a more effective way on your site is the best way to ensure that people can quickly and efficiently navigate around your site.
On the flip side, if people have to spend a lot of time navigating through a million design elements just to figure out how to contact you or order your product, there is a good chance they’ll get frustrated and move on to the next site. So, a simple and easy-to-navigate web site can increase business and improve customer satisfaction.
The benefits of a fairly minimal, streamlined web site are pretty clear. However, to many people, minimal makes them think of boring. This does not have to be the case! Minimalist designs can be beautiful and interesting—the trick lies in knowing what to use and how to use it.
The first step to designing a minimalist site is to think about the site’s purpose: “My site needs to ___________”. Whether it is to sell a product, promote a service, or raise awareness of an issue, there should be a clearly defined purpose. This will enable you to determine your focal point and figure out what content furthers your purpose and what content is unnecessary clutter.
Once the purpose is clear, another thing to keep in mind is color. A splash of contrasting color can make a page really pop, while an overload of contrasting colors is visually overwhelming. Use a contrasting color to highlight the one or two things that are most important, and keep everything else a bit more muted.
White space is another key component of minimalism. Having some white (or bright) space around the important elements of your design will give people’s eyes a break and help to define the focal points. Without enough white space, things start to run together and the site becomes very cluttered.
Finally, keeping the hierarchy of the page in mind is important as well. You may only have a few seconds to capture people’s attention, particularly if they are browsing through a list of search-engine results to look for a particular product or service. Make sure that the size and weight of each element on your page is proportional to its importance. The most important things should be bigger and bolder. This also helps create a path to lead viewers through your web site, thus helping to increase functionality at the same time as it helps catch people’s attention.
As you can see, a minimalist web design doesn’t mean bland and boring—it means using only a necessary few elements in a way that maximizes their impact to increase interest and usability. A web site following the principle of “Less is More” isn’t just a cliché, it’s a site that is likely to attract the attention that is key to growing your business.