There is a tendency for people to go overboard in the name of design. Mismatched colours, confusing fonts, complicated animations and content overload are only some of the ways in which design can go wrong. We don’t need to tell you the impact of this- it’s pretty clear that bad design just doesn’t work. In that case, how do you ensure that your design efforts are good?
In our journey to solve design problems, we discovered that, often there is a need to stand out by using as many elements as possible, at once! While this may set you apart, the message gets lost in this mix. After all, what use is design if not to send out a visual message to its audience?
This is when we go back to a concept that has been around for a long time, and has ALWAYS worked and that is MINIMALISM. This article takes a brief look into minimalism, what it entails and ways in which minimalistic designs have worked for us.
How do we define minimalism?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” We look at minimalism as stripping back unnecessary elements and keeping only what’s essential.
Minimalistic design uses limited materials, mostly neutral colours, simple shapes and avoids any excesses to achieve a look of pure elegance. What is important here is that all the elements used complement each other perfectly and are equal parts of the whole.
Minimalism has been in existence since the mid-20th century, and started out in American art as a reaction against the modernism emerging at that time. While it has been a part of art, music, architecture and even literature, it has gained a lot of popularity in digital design recently. This concept has also been adopted as a way of life around the world. While its origins can be seen in the 20th century, it has gained a lot of traction lately (Read Marie Kondo, her book and Netflix show on holding on only to what sparks joy!) While we will be looking into minimalistic design, you can check out this article for tips on a minimalistic lifestyle.
The Traits of Minimalism
What’s so special about Minimalism? Why is there such a huge following for it?
- Simplicity- Minimalism equals simplicity. Need we say more? It’s not only about making the basic interface simple, but keeping things as simple as it needs to be. The idea is for the user to look at the design and know the use of the product. The lesser elements that are used, the better.
Apple’s iOS 14 upgrade offers a good look into a minimalistic interface- your phone’s home screen can be decluttered as the apps are grouped into different categories on a separate page and you can customise your screen to keep only what’s required. It’s simple yet elegant at the same time.
- Use of white space- Minimalism embraces white space. While this might be seen as a waste of a usable design area, it actually helps to focus only on what’s really important and reduce the difficulty in grasping the message. This space need not only be white, any colour that soothes and blends in well can be used.
We’ve worked on a few minimalistic website ideas for our boutique clients. Once you look at the website, your attention goes directly towards the clothes, and that’s only because the white space takes you there! Isn’t it amazing what white space can do?
- Neutral colours and fonts- Minimalism looks at the usage of limited colours and those colour combinations that work really well with each other. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use any new colours- you can use them but ensure that they don’t divert your attention.
It’s the same case with fonts. Clear and easy to read typefaces are used, so that there is no confusion in the message. Don’t forget to use fonts that go well with the colours used, so that they are all saying the same thing.
You can take a look at this logo we created for one of our clients. The grey colour used for the background aligns well with the simple font that spells out the company’s name. Admit it, looking at the logo for Sleep Desire reminds you of your bed, doesn’t it? If so, you know that this totally works! 😛
- Other visual aids- In addition to colours and fonts, you can use suitable photographs, illustrations and even simple shapes or patterns to complement your design and the white space. You can always experiment to see how to use these aids in the right manner.
Another of our website mockups perfectly illustrates how to use images to tell the story. The photographs tell the story of the products sold, including the styles and potential colours. You also know how to view more, which is clear by the use of simple shapes. Also note that the images and shapes used work really well with the colour scheme and fonts used.
Sometimes, you might have to use certain shapes/patterns to create icons or symbols, such as the ones used in mobile phones. These icons do the work of the text, and must give the user an idea of the action performed. For example- a clock icon on your phone lets you know that you can set your alarm, whereas the crescent moon indicates do not disturb.
How do you know all this? Icons designed in the minimalistic style will ingrain these simple messages in your head, so that you know what it does when you look at it for only a second. Here’s a sample of icons that we created for a client. Let’s see if you can identify them all!
Our Parting Thoughts
For minimalistic design to stand out, remember that all the individual elements need to be in sync with each other. The relationship between the colours, fonts, images, shapes and even the white space should be balanced and set up correctly. Incorrect use of any of these elements can cause the final product to be completely different than what you intended.
This brings us to our next point. While these designs look very simple, it is not easy to achieve that look of elegance and sophistication that you usually see. A lot of practice and effort is involved to get it right, which is why it’s always best to consult a design expert in case you want to go the minimalistic route.
However, one thing is clear- minimalism is here to stay. It has withstood the test of time and helped brands stand out. A lot of brands have wholeheartedly embraced minimalism; it’s a part of their apps, websites, products and even social media. In this era of information overload, minimalism conveys what is required in the shortest time span, and in the simplest way possible.
We’ll leave you with a final image of one of our pieces. This logo design for Lula’s Closet conveys many things- the target audience is female, it’s pieces are stylish and elegant and it’s made with a lot of care! All this by just looking at a logo? That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of minimalism!