When Minimalism Backfires: When Too Little Is Not Enough

As seen in our previous article on the subject and examples around the web, minimalism is quite the trend.

When the theory behind it is well implemented, it makes for some beautiful, simple and yet modern designs.

Because it is a trend, everyone wants to follow it. But can it be taken too far? And is it right for all types of websites?

This article explores some of the potentially negative side-effects of minimalist designs and the consequences of implementing one incorrectly.

Unlike our previous post, we’ll look at when minimalism is a bad idea, however inspiring it is supposed to be.


It’s Just a Style

Simplifying a website is one thing, but minimalism on its own is just a style. It is a style just as grunge, illustrated and sleek Web 2.0 are styles.

Sometimes we forget that and assume that every design needs it.


Minimalist design is the inclusion of only the bare essentials in an attractive and usable layout.

There are no gradients or strokes and no superfluous imagery, colors, textures or the like. Often you’ll find one main visual element and a few pieces of content.

Many websites could benefit from more content, though, as well as more visual stimulation. We’ll look at a few examples and see why minimalism is trendy but not imperative.


Minimalism Is for “Artsy” Websites

Extreme minimalism is inspiring and has made recent appearances in portfolios and other creative-type websites.

As creative people, we see the beauty and understand the logic in it and long to create our clients’ websites in the same image, all the while not realizing that it may simply not be practical.

Minimalist design, to put it simply, best suits modern websites in creative industries.

It has an outside-the-box attitude and allows designers to be original with components such as the wireframe and navigation.


The Ordinary Web User

We know why we love minimalist design. Now it’s time to consider the average user’s perspective.

Many people in non-design-related fields don’t fully appreciate minimalist design or even find it visually appealing. And because the vast majority of Internet users are not creative types, we have to respect this view and address it accordingly.

Take the design below as an example. This popular minimalist design has been featured in many showcases. It’s a beautiful design and highly effective. It also happens to be the portfolio of a designer, so it fits our model.

Imagine if it were a musician’s website. Obviously, this wouldn’t be the right look. Even with the right visual elements substituted, it still wouldn’t have the right look.

What if the website belonged to a business consulting company? A bit too bare still.

Some websites just look and work better with more content and a fuller design.


Supplementary features are also what makes certain types of websites so successful. Take the magazine website below:


A website like this thrives on rich content, enticing the viewer with fun and entertaining articles, videos, blogs, programs, etc.

A minimalist look would not engage the reader much at all. This website is successful because of the sheer amount of visual interactivity right on the home page.


Content-Rich vs. Cluttered

We often mistake non-minimalist websites as being cluttered, and therefore ugly. No doubt, cluttered websites are confusing and unattractive.

New designers often make the mistake of adding and adding and adding, and then their clients are forced to tell them to remove most of the clutter.

Even experienced designers think first to remove elements when something is “missing.”

“Cluttered” has almost become a four-letter word—and rightly so. But content-rich websites have also dropped in esteem because of their association with clutter. Are content-rich websites really cluttered?

Cluttered vs. Content-Heavy

Usually, no. A genuinely cluttered design has little white space; its typographic styles, colors and other elements clash; it is a disorganized mess; the wireframe is ineffective or absent; and content is excessive, not rich.

We have to understand what excessive really meanss. What happened to being happy with a reasonable amount of content and layout elements?


Are We Just Lazy?

For those of us who follow a minimalist style, why do we do it?

Is it because we genuinely love the style, despite the complexity of mastering it? Are we committed to using only the minimum requirements in the most effective way, based on our learning and analytics? Or do we do it because we’re lazy?

Minimalism is undoubtedly effective. But it’s not for everyone, and some people prefer other styles.

In spite of what’s best for a particular project, we may opt for a minimalist style to avoid having to work on difficult code, slicing or features. Looking at the best minimalist designs, it’s easy to see why imitations abound.

If you’re guilty of this, don’t worry: it happens to most of us at some point. Just bear in mind that a truly minimalist style takes time to develop, like any complex style.

If you’re simply opposed to working out challenging graphical elements, though, you’re doing a disservice to the project.


Minimalism Misused

When venturing into minimalist territory, be sure it is right for the website you’re working on.

Also, try to understand minimalism’s true value, to avoid resorting to it as a quick fix. Below are a few common mistakes made with minimalist design and reasons why it gets a bad rap.

  • Self-Defeating Usability
    Minimalist websites should be the most usable websites, because nothing is there to confuse or get in the way; and the text is thought out extra carefully. Often though, with little on the page, visitors have difficulty figuring out where to go. So, attention to visual hierarchy is a must. Also, getting creative with the navigation is great, but don’t get too creative.
  • Minimal Design or Minimal Interest?
    Beautifully minimal or just plain boring? You can make a minimalist design interesting in a number of ways, while preserving its calm and simple appeal.
  • Is the Message Strong Enough?
    Minimalist designs are best for adorning messages that are compelling on their own. The idea is to strip the website of any excess content or elements that would detract from the message. If the message is weak, ill-conceived or absent, then a minimalist design may not be the right choice. Brochure websites are an example of this: basic information with no distinct message.


Wrapping Up

Born in the late 1950s, minimalism has become a design ideal. Most of the time, we improve a design by simplifying it: that’s a basic design rule.

Many people assume, though, that simplifying a design means stripping it to the bare bone. This isn’t—and shouldn’t be—the case.

We have to learn to recognize what types of websites would and would not benefit from a minimalist style.

The deciding factor may be the target audience’s sensibility, the client’s goals or the way visitors will use the website. But there is an appropriate style for each website, and the decision should not be taken lightly.

Look at your content, and figure out the design that would best carry it, whether minimalist or not.

Written exclusively for WDD by Kayla Knight.

When do you choose a minimalist design over one that is not? Please share your opinions with us…

  • http://www.trippingwords.com Josh

    This is an excellent article on the potential perils of misusing minimalist philosophy. .

    Great read. Thanks!

  • http://www.twitter.com/murlu Murlu

    I love minimal designs on part with romanticizing my earlier net experience when it was predominantly text. Sometimes I don’t want all this flashiness, I just want the core.

    I think as we use the internet more we get into pattern recognition where we come to expect to see all this drop down menu, gradients, shines, reflections and everything else that makes up this “web 2.0”.

    You get overloaded with this blast of visuals. Seeing a beautifully designed website with features is great in itself but minimalism reminds you what the internet is about, information.

    As mentioned, it doesn’t work with every website. I wouldn’t expect a minimal design for news sites and such but I think many of these larger sites could benefit from cutting back.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ankitbathija Ankit Bathija

      I agree with you. The Net is about information, and when you visit such sites, it relaxes your mind out of all these designs, web 2.0 craziness and gives you the sense of peaceful text feeling!!

  • http://www.grumblebeestudio.com mikeo

    nice read.

    you make a valid point kayla and that is where web design comes into play. i am currently designing my site to be a minimalist site. i like the minimalist style, when done correctly.

    on the other hand if i am designing a site to sell car parts – i am probably not going to use the same approach. you have to use what style will work for a given situation. there is no one size fits all when it comes to web design.


  • http://www.moinid.com Creative Ideas

    I thinks this is one more opinion :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/ankitbathija Ankit Bathija

    Totally Agree with you!! Many websites try to portray themselves as minimalistic, but when a layman is browsing through, the website seems incomplete to him. I think Minimalism is an art which requires experience, and can’t be just showcased effectively by any designer along with maintaining its standards. What say?

  • http://www.murtazaimran.com Murtaza

    this is true.. if the main objective of the website is to sell something.. then it should convince people in a KISS but at the same time plan out a proper AIDA!

  • http://lessisbetter.net Nick

    Pure minimalism may not be the best fit for all projects, I agree. However, stripping a site down to its bear essentials (displayed to the user) in a redesign project should always be the first option… then when clients freak out, bend a little.

  • http://www.forgeseo.com Matt M

    Great article! Minimalism is not a design style to be widely used and abused like so many others have been, especially considering you can not only make the design nonfunctional, but severely lacking in appropriate content. We originally had the front page of our site very minimal but ended up adding some subtle pictures to break up the text and allow for a better overall look.

  • http://wpnoob.com izzat aziz

    one thing though.. some people or designer they are not good in graphic and stuff.. so to make sure their design work they do minimalistic.. because they don’t need to create header such you has in this blog..

    so, sometime minimalistic is popular among web designer that don’t have much knowledge of graphic, and some other fields, that you take as reason why minimalistic is the design style that you should do.

  • http://www.knockoutdesigns.com.au Damir

    I agree and have to admit that I am also guilty of overusing / misusing minimalism in my designs :/

  • http://sexidesign.com Melody

    I think minimalistic designs are considered ordinary/standard for the common (non-eccentric-perfectionist-design-professional-like ourselves) person. And is probably just a result of ignorance to what good design is or how it affects the progression and branding of a site.

  • http://circleboxblog.com Callum Chapman

    I love the minimalism when used in both web and print design. For my recent redesign of my blog Circlebox Blog went for something that is both simple and a little bit more ‘content-heavy’. I didn’t want to under or over-do it, and that was what I came up with. It’s hard because I know a lot of people love minimalism, a lot of people love complex, busy design and some like it in the middle!

  • http://www.dorcasgarciadesign.com dorcas garcia

    I love minimalist designs. The use of empty space as many people call,is as important as the space that is being used. Example: a painter is having an exhibition for the first time in his professional life and shows all the images the space will allow him to hang. Instead of choosing a few images that speak by themselves, show his style and make a lasting impression to the viewers.

  • http://www.smashingshare.com Waheed Akhtar

    You might have seen websites which is very heavy in content and on other hand with very less content but still both look awesome. I feel less or more is not important. All depends of your imagination and how you present it.

  • http://www.digital-landscape.co.uk Digital Landscape / 2kS

    As a self taught designer I find this type of article very useful and interesting. I’ve always worked on the premise that a deign id finished when you can’t remove anything else. This article highlights the fact that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you ‘ve stripped it back to plain text :o)

    Thanks. More like this please…

  • http://fireheadblog.wordpress.com Alexandre

    I always agree with those use minimalism. Clean is better.

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    I’m the same idea by melody. A great article and good read. Thanks for this post.

  • http://www.damonbauer.com Damon

    Decent article, althought somewhat misleading. I disagree with the “minimalism on its own is just a style. It is a style just as grunge, illustrated and sleek Web 2.0 are styles.”

    Minimalism is different for each and every site, depending on the needs and goals of that site. What’s good for one site might not be good for another.

    Also, if you are designing a minimalist site because you are lazy, you don’t understand the real concept behind minimal. It’s more than just removing a picture here or a gradient there. It’s about grids, golden ratios, typography, color theory, balance, symmetry (and asymmetry), and much more – not just removing something so you don’t have to mess with coding it.

    In all, this is a good article Kayla; it will definitely stir up some conversation.

  • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

    Really interesting to read, thank you. It reinforces everything I was taught at uni when studying graphic design. And I’ll be the first to admit that I can be guility of adding and adding and adding to a design instead of cutting back. I’ll try to keep your points in mind. Thanks =D

    I have to say I do love minimalist design, when appropriate. But like a typical web user, I can find the EXTREME minimalist designs boring. Like the example you gave. It may be going against the minimalist philosophy but I’d add small touches of colour to the titles (like the way he has done in the Blog). Even this in itself would be adding to the functionality because it would be quickly indicating different sections.

  • http://supercomentario.com.br Tioni Oliv

    I luv “the minimal”. John Maeda as saying: When in doubt, delete!

  • http://www.bebop-ad.com BebopDesigner

    Brilliant article! I love minimalism, or at least looking at it. But unfortunately most people, or clients don’t have a clear idea of what it is and what it really is for. This post will be a great resource to explain the dos and don’ts of it.
    This discussion goes way beyond web design, that is, all misconceptions of minimalism take place in various realms of work: industrial design, interior design, fashion design, music, photography, etc.

    BTW, have you seen MAXIMALISM on interior design. (I’m crazy about it)

    Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  • http://www.wevegotideas.com jhoysi

    Interesting article. As always, it is about designing for the audience, not the website owner.

  • http://www.chotrul.com/ Mark Carter

    I’d second one of the earlier comments in mentioning KISS. Keeping it simple might not necessarily mean minimalist, but whatever the type of design, it seems to me that what reducing what is there to the core is often harder than constantly adding, and, like a good writer, it’s more about what you say, and how you say it than it is about how much can I build up and elaborate on this ….

    thanks for the thought provoking article

  • http://twitter.com/TyronBache Tyron Bache

    Cool concept never heard of it before! thanks for the perspective

  • Greg

    This is another piece full of mis-information, poorly-backed examples, and lackluster research.

    How can you make these claims without legitimate research data? Reference articles you used to arrive at these claims? Examples supporting your claims?

    This isn’t an article backed by research, this is a diary entry full of poorly-formed opinions.

  • http://www.thedesigncubicle.com Brian Hoff

    Personally, I feel that we need to stop throwing around terms and labels and make websites relevant and purposeful. I think we throw around terms such as “clean and minimal” too easily. Finding better adjectives to describe the purpose is a much better way of describing a websites style or feel. To say a “Minimalist design only suits modern websites in creative industries” is completely wrong. Sometimes heavy graphic are not required to get the point across, while other times graphics, texture, color, etc. are needed to express a feeling or emotion throughout the site. Twitter.com is a great example of this. It’s “minimal” because it lacks a lot of content on the main page, but non-minimal, for a better lack of word, because of the colors, illustrations, etc. So where do you draw the line as to say what is minimal and what is not? More importantly, where do you draw the line as to say a “minimal” website would not work for someone other then a creative person? How many times do we see websites with wood grain backgrounds when it serves no purpose other then to make it non-minimal? Are the wood grain backgrounds that designers use on the websites trying to say, “hey, I’m a graphic designer that likes woodworking as well!” Design elements need to serve purpose.

  • Stephen

    I really do not understand the idea of putting a name like (minimalism, modernism) of a functional piece of information design. Type holds a function, that is to carry information.

    The technical issues multitude of technical specs when given structure, hierarchy do not add a style to something such as minimalism. Trends and fashion come and go almost weekly. But purity of content and a well considered piece of design, emphasises space and creates a visually stimulating piece of design.

    Great Post

  • Patrick

    This is a lousy argument. Minimalism was also not “born in the 1950s”.

  • Dave

    “Minimalist design, to put it simply, best suits modern websites in creative industries.”

    Really? Has the author of this article ever seen the Google homepage? Hardly an “artsy” website is it?

    And I don’t think the author understands musicians much either:

    “Imagine if it were a musician’s website. Obviously, this wouldn’t be the right look.”

    ‘Obviously’ she says; ‘not so obvious’ if you ask me. To assume that all musicians will hate a so-called minimal website reveals a serious lack of research on the part of the author. Musicians differ wildly from each other – and so do most of the clients you’ll have to work with if you’re a professional designer.

    But she does goes on to say: “…there is an appropriate style for each website, and the decision should not be taken lightly.”

    I agree, actually, but it’s hard to take this article seriously when the author doesn’t seem to practice (or understand) what she preaches.

  • http://brandonleekitajchuk.com Brandon Kitajchuk

    I would have to agree, mostly, with @Greg @Brian Hoff @Stephen and @Patrick above. I think the writer of this article is trying to be sincere, however, a lack of relevant information kills the idea altogether. The language here is very amateur and there seems to be no real depth to what is being said. The essence of what choices designers make when designing and why goes much deeper than what is spoken above. Also, I feel the distinctions that sparked any design or art movement at its time of influx deserve more than what this article offers them. Why we still use styles or don’t use others etc… We are living in a “modern” world and it seems we sometimes forget that a computer and Photoshop aren’t the all-knowing answers to or problems.

    Overall, I think this article would greatly benefit from some insight and real appropriated reference points. There is an underlying idea here I do believe…

  • http://www.jamesdeangelis.com James De Angelis

    These articles are skin deep, they are shallow, they don’t expose any of the real workings of design. Bad knowledge is spread, and what’s sadder is that so many commenters take this as gospel.

    Come on Designer Depot, you can do better than this!

  • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

    Any article on WDD is just someone’s opinion. That’s why we disclose the author’s info at the bottom.
    Some articles are not always 100% aligned with my personal opinion for example, but it may match many other people’s opinions. I think that the variety of opinions is what makes WDD so interesting to read.

    I don’t believe in a scientific approach for design or web design or art.

    The article makes some good points and while it may not reflect what some of you think it ‘should be’, please take it for what it is, and not for what it ‘could’ be.

    That being said, we’re listening to your comments and we’ll take this into consideration moving forward.

  • Dave

    Just because it’s someone’s opinion doesn’t mean you should overlook the lack of research and clarity in the article. The credibility of an information site like WDD is severely undermined when unsupported claims and half-baked opinions are presented as facts.

    Also, no one says that design demands a strictly ‘scientific’ approach, but it’s certainly not black magic either. Proper design is about problem-solving and involves careful research and critical thinking. The creative mind is mysterious, but the design process certainly isn’t.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      @Dave, I hear you, but the design process could be ‘mysterious’ as well. Some may approach it using a set of rules while others take a completely organic and natural approach to it.

  • http://waynedahlberg.com Wayne

    Respectfully, I too, would prefer to see research, rather than opinion for this article.

    Your position that states “Minimalist design [best suits] modern websites in creative industries” is not only wrong, but I fear your approach to design in general may be misguided. The landscape of learning and doing is changing before our eyes, thanks to the internet. But with the confluence of social media and young, eager, creative minds, standard design principles are being glazed over in favor of the popular ‘styles’ of the day. It would be a shame base any important aesthetic judgements on style alone.

    Assuming your target readership for this article is web designers, consider this;
    We all design websites for clients. Clients want those websites to work. Great websites work best when the end user understands how to use the site for its intended purpose without unneeded visual distraction. This is true even outside of the creative brief that calls for a ‘grungy’ or ‘illustrated’ website. There are lucrative careers being made right now by creative people who understand this.

    To me, minimalism is a fine line to walk when creating for digital media. Take away too much from a design, the function is lost on most people. Add too much, and the result is the same. (Godaddy.com, for example.) Balancing what to add and take away from a design, while keeping in mind functionality, is where the kiddies are separated from the pro’s. The internet, at its very core, is a medium best suited to the real definition of minimalism.

  • http://unttld.com/ Derek

    I gotta say, I disagree. There’s about 4 or 5 comments above that disagree as well.

    Firstly as an art form Minimalism bridged Modernism and Post Modernism. Which would place it in the late 60s. Minimalist design goes back to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who was doing architectural design 30 years before the 50s. Even that, minimalism shows up through out the history of the universe. Not just in the last 6 decades.

    It’s not a ‘style’ in the sense that minimalism has a set of aesthetic rules like say what all the web design blogs are doing these days with bright fancy colours and some illustrated header. You might be confused with Modernist design. Minimalism works flat out.

    The only thing I’ve learned from this blog over the last month is that I no longer wish to read it as it’s misleading and misinformed. I’ve also learned that there are a great many popular web design bloggers and maybe designers who need to put down their HTML/CSS books, stop with the meet ups at the trendy conferences, stop reading blogs, and to go back to school for a proper education in Graphic Design, Communication Design, Information Design, maybe some Typography, Art History, and Colour Theory might fix what’s clearly broken.


  • http://nicholasreed.net Nicholas Reed

    I think the main idea of this article is correct. Perhaps that’s because I’m not looking into the deeper fundamentals of design, but am reflecting on my own experience.
    I lost a client because minimalism was not enough.

    I was sitting there thinking “aahh, you see that slick white, see how it brings all attention to the content which is our main objective” The client did not agree.

    Minimalism is really appealing when the subject of the website, whether its photography or text using nice typography and headings, is beautiful on its own. Perhaps its only when the subject matter is boring that we need to introduce material from outside the subject to make it visually appealing.

    I agree with the point about minimalist designs being appreciated by the design-minded, but for the majority, confident color and high-impact graphics are required for something to be considered a successful design.

    On the site I’m designing at the moment, I am very lucky to have excellent subject matter. see The site is http://ducatiadelaide.com.au/new_hypermotard1100.php,
    for the individual bike pages, I can safely use the images as the focal point, without worrying about adding other design elements – in fact, I very well should avoid adding other design elements as to not interfere with the viewing of the pictures. Unlike http://ducati.com – who love to hide their photography for they customers for some unknown reason.

    Good Article and I think we use many more examples of the point in the future.


  • shirokami

    Yeah, you lost me at “Minimalism is a trend”.

    Last week’s grid article, and now this? Can I write next week’s “Using Helvetica is a fad and probably a bad idea unless you are an artsy fartsy type” article?

    Yes, of course being minimal in your approach is not always the best application for someone’s site – but that is only due to *matters of taste*. The author started off correctly by stating that superfluous lines and gradients and whatnot not being used is an affectation of minimalism – however, adding CONTENT to that list is not the best idea.

    While there are better examples to offer, here is a good example of minimalist design:
    No unnecessary bells and whistles… or embellishments. Just content. Lots and lots of content. Yet it is still minimal. And not artsy.

    Seriously, was this article a pre-emptive defence of all the design fluffery adorning the top and bottom of this site? Are we to suppose that they were not only the best idea, but *not* some sort of fad?

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      “Minimalism is a trend” relates to the sheer amount of websites adopting a very minimalist design as seen in the example above. Check any CSS gallery and you’ll find tons of these. That’s what the author is referring to.

  • http://www.cutelittlefactory.com Andrea Austoni

    The overall idea of the article is correct: minimalism shouldn’t be chosen as preferential route just because it’s cool. The design should follow the purpose.
    However minimalism is not a style but rather an aesthetic direction.

    You should read “Minimum” by John Pawson, world-reknown minimalist architect. It’s a compelling photo collection of minimalist works, mostly architecture.

    As others have said here the work of architect Mies Van Der Rohe can be considered minimalist. His Bercelona Pavilion is THE contemporary architecture landmark of the 20th century, bar none. Yet it features chrome columns, leather armchairs and a marble wall. Very luxurious!
    Just like Brian Hoff said, Twitter’s webpage is minimalistic but colorful and illustrated.

    Take a look at the work of Luis Barragan, one of the few architects to employ colors effectively. He designed amazing buildings in Mexico that feature light blue and pink walls. The interplay of form, color, light and shadow is absolutely amazing. And he does this with straight lines and a total lack of decoration.

    Among artists you should check out Richard Long, Tom Friedman, Sol Lewitt, Lucio Fontana and Miguel Berrocal. Berrocal created amazing “puzzle” sculptures that are made of up to 60 geometrically intricate components. On the outside, though, they have simple, flowing lines that define organic shapes. Again, complex thinking hidden beneath aesthetic simplicity.

    Minimalism is a process of elimination. All unnecessary elements are discarded until it’s impossible to eliminate any more without changing the nature of the project. When done well, minimalism generates powerful designs.

    What we see online, though, IS a style and a trend and very often a product of laziness. Why spend hours designing and creating complex header illustrations when you can just use a competently designed title set in a beautiful typeface? Add a cool ampersand set in Baskerville and prodigious amounts of whitespace and sell it as clean and minimal. That’s your recipe.

    What the web needs is more blogs devoted to the culture behind design.
    Without culture there are only empty trends. Do we really want that?

  • http://www.yoursubconsciouspower.com deb

    Well. I bumped into this site by accident. And I have to tell you that it is truly pleasing to my eyes. In addition, the information you provide on the site is outstanding and rich. Thanks. Keep up the great work.

    P.S. I really do like this site.

  • http://www.mybiz.lk/ myBiz.lk

    I love minimalistic designs but find some sites boring to look at. Anyway simplicity is the key :)

  • http://www.uncharteddesign.com UnchartedDesign

    Great article! I’ll have to use these points in arguments with my co-designers about these exact situations.

  • http://www.chrisly.info Chris

    This is wrong. Plain and simple. It would be like assuming a philosophy like utilitarianism or ontelogicalism is only suitable in particular life situations.
    Minimalism is a design philosophy, not a trend. Every website and design benefits from its use.
    It is, by definition, the removal of the unnecessary. People and Self’s web site would be cluttered even if it were seen through minimalism. Those sites serve to a particular audience and at their bare minimum, they still require a ton of content at once. That is still minimalism.

    This article, like the one about grids, is a complete misunderstanding of what the topic is actually about.

  • http://designadaptations.com Charity

    Minimalism is a trend? Seriously? That’s like saying grids are a trend. A “minimalist” style (or whatever you want to label it) can suit any genre of site, depending on what kind of message the author/owner wants to communicate. Every site’s purpose and voice is unique.

    On a sidenote, I’m beginning to question the value of content published here. It’s interesting that the author of this article is the same who contributed the infamous article on grids last month. Our opinions on design definitely do not align. Not that I have to be in agreement to respect someone’s opinion… but where’s the quality control here? Articles like this can be very misleading to newcomers.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      The idea portrayed is that minimalism is right now hot on many designs. Not a trend on itself.

      • http://unttld.com/ Derek K

        Maybe a few examples of what WDD considers ‘minimalist style’ websites would have been better. The article only has one screenshot. And there’s a large difference between what web design considers minimalism, and what the rest of the art world considers minimalism.

        Design Meltdown has a fairly large list of what he considers minimalist design:

        If this is what WDD is referring to as minimal design, than I propose rewriting the article to this:

        It’s Just a Style: fine. But you can do whatever you want, just serve up quality over quantity.

        Minimalism Is for “Artsy” Websites: craigslist isn’t an artsy website. But is very minimalistic.

        The Ordinary Web User: will probably like a minimalist website because it loads fast and the content they need isn’t hidden under piles of superflous content and flourishes.

        Content-Rich vs. Cluttered: You can have content rich minimalist design. Again, quality over quantity.

        Are We Just Lazy? & Minimalism Misused: is applicable to other styles. Not just minimalism. I can say the same about WDD’s style. The header illustration looks like all the PSD tutorials kicking around and the rest is a fairly generic WP blog layout.

        Intro & Wrapping Up: should probably have paid attention to art history so that talking about minimalism as an art movement is historically acurate.

  • http://www.webdesign-in.de/ Monika

    Minimalist design wasn’t born in the 50th it was born ~~1920 ;)

    Minimalistic design isn’t per se the lake of images.

    And I hope we design for the customers of our customers ;)

    “The worm must be tasty to the fish, not the fisherman.”

    Keep your design so simple as possible -but no px simpler.

    Sometimes I see “pseudo”minimalistic designs: no images, poor fonts but a lot of big borders.

    This designs doesn’t have the feeling of minimalistic, they are simple boring.


  • http://elitesouth.com Chris McCorkle

    I only support a minimalist design approach (as well as grunge, sleek, etc) if it establishes the brand, communicates the message, and engages/entices the visitor to react in a way that benefits the company. Period.

    Never sacrifice utility, usability, and valuable content by letting the design get in the way… If you can help it.

  • http://www.i-pointwebdesign.com Leah

    Well, this article has certainly generated a lot of discussion, so it must have gotten us all thinking….

    One thing I now appreciate from this discussion – minimalism need not be all white. Twitter is a good example.

    I think the test for when to use minimalism is what you want your site to “say” –

    If you want your site to say, “hey, look how much is happening here!” or “we’re chock full of events/news/stuff, etc., check it out!” then minimalism is probably not for you.

    If you want your site to say, “it’s pretty simple actually, just contact us” or “we’ve got gorgeous stuff, just come” – then minimalism is great.

    Every site gives off a certain message and you need to decide what you want that message to be.

  • http://www.zoombits.de/speicherkarten/usb-sticks/memory2go-8gb-usb-stick/5804 8gb usb stick

    I am also a fan of minimalist websites.I like the plain and simple approach. I cant stand website which make things over complicated. The basic approach draws a users eye to specific areas of the page rather than make everything harder to find.

  • http://www.craigreville.com Craig Reville

    I think to be honest, minimalistic styles are more difficult than people realize.

    To take alot of content, add it EFFECTIVELY into a site with the bare minimum styling and make it look appealing to consumers, is extremely difficult. I spent 3 weeks styling one minimalistic website and only 5 days for a complex graphically challenging site.

    To say its laziness or ignorance is ignorance in itself and unless you try to see it from the other perspective then your not gonna understand.

    I love complex sites with over the top styling and complex coding but prefer to keep my personal site simplistic, i have used complex coding also, to achieve this.

    In my opinion, A great designer will be able to take KEY information from the client and design the website effectively to the given spec, it may or may not end up minimalistic.

    Charles Rennie Macintosh used simplistic styles in his era and the 60’s were all about keeping it simple, so minimalistic is NOT a new thing and is certainly not the new MODERN.



  • http://www.digitalbeautydesigns.co.uk James Seymour-Lock

    I agree with the above post, it takes a lot longer to design a minimalistic website.

    I think apple currently have the perfect combination of simplistic yet rich application design, which seems to be adopted by every mac app developer.

  • http://twitter.com/Infrastrukt Colin Stephen

    This article is so irresponsibly written, its hard to fathom how or why.

    I would point out the portions of it that are inaccurate, but that applies to most if not all of it. How can you make such blanket statements about web design, referring to it all as minimalism or lack thereof?

    This is an extremely careless piece of writing, if I’ve ever seen one. You’ve generalized things to such a degree, that minimalism has no meaning within the context of what you are describing.

    True minimalism as it pertains to web design, is not about restraint. It’s about reduction. It’s about knowing when something doesn’t belong.

    Taking it easy on a design, because you are lazy or intimidating by having to do a lot of coding, is not a minimalistic approach. How you can repeat this idea in one article so many times, in so many different ways… is thoroughly offensive and proves how little you’ve researched the topic. I sincerely hope you’ve had a few months to resolve this, since having wrote it.