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Clean Up Your Messy Website And Go Minimalist!

By Eva Barnes , Sep 13 2016
Messy Website And Go Minimalist

Featured Image: iStock/Maximkostenko

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery French writer (1900–1944)

KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid! A rule every web designer knows, few apply, and even fewer truly understand. We have seen that designers start out with lofty plans for simplicity and end up abandoning them mid-design. This is in no way, shape, or form, a gripe against web designers. We are simply pointing out that modern web design is a complicated mess of JavaScript libraries and endless CSS code. Simplicity should not be buried under this mess.

In this post, we learn about simplifying design with minimalism, principles of minimalistic web design, and major characteristics of minimalist websites. Later on, we will look at 15 amazing examples of minimalistic web design.

Unleash The Minimalist In You!

How do you clean up your web design? By embracing minimalism!

The motto of minimalism is. “Less is more,” this is exactly what we frazzled web designers want. We need to go back to design basics and simplify our approach. The minimalist path is all about eliminating the unnecessary. Therefore, in our quest for cleaner design, we look towards minimalistic principles. Minimal designs have the ideal alignment, balance, and contrast.

Clean Website

Illustration: Freepik

Minimalism And Its Web Design Roots

Minimalism means more than just a professional easy-to-read website. Minimalism has roots that go beyond web design. It began as an art movement in the 1950s that stripped down visual design to essentials.

This visual-art movement has influenced modern web design trends such as flat design, hidden navigation, and full-page background videos/images. Minimalism in web design is an effort to let go of unnecessary extra flashy effects and focus on content. Minimalistic design can be considered user-first design because the overall goal is to simplify user tasks.

Minimalism started to appear in website designs during the early 2000s. Designers started adding white space, simplified their color palettes, avoided animations, and toned down the amount of content. The Google Search page is considered the first popular minimalist website; this is what the page looked like in 1999:

Google Search page 1999
Image Source

Although Google continued to apply this approach to all its products, minimalistic interfaces didn’t gain much traction until the late 2000s. The popularity rose rapidly during the early 2010s because of the introduction of RWD (Responsive Web Design).

Today minimalism had become a major web design trend, especially with ecommerce sites. It has contributed to the evolution of flat design, RWD, and clean design.

Achieving Minimalism: What Makes A Website ‘Minimalist’?

As in all things visual, balance is important. Don’t go overboard with the simplification process, keep the layout and interface as clean as you can. However, design descriptions can only help so much; let’s move on to something that holds weight, cold hard numbers.

A study conducted by the Nielsen Norman Group analyzed minimal websites and discovered the following common characteristics:

Is My Web Design Minimalistic

Importance Of A Clean And Minimalistic Look

Fact About Minimalistic Design

Benefits for Business Websites

Simple designs are considered more beautiful

Visitors are likely to stay longer and convert

A visitor judges website aesthetics in 1/50th—1/20th  of a second

This lowers bounce rate and increases leads

Simple websites are easier to process mentally and visually

Customers will easily find what they are looking for

65% of website visits originate from smartphones

Your business reaches more people in your target niche

A minimal and clean-looking website is better than a visually complex website. This isn’t a mere statement, it is a scientifically proven result. A psychological study, focused on understanding website visitor’s aesthetic judgments, revealed that simple designs are considered more beautiful.

Additional analysis found that a typical user judges the aesthetics of a website in less than a second. The specific number is between 1/50th – 1/20th of a second. This should give any web designer sufficient pause. That website you spent long hours perfecting, the visitor will judge instantly! It’s almost enough to send you into an existential crisis. Luckily, there is a silver lining to this design dilemma, minimalism!

Minimalistic design is cleaner and easier for the brain to process. A psychological concept known as cognitive fluency comes into play here. Fluency is the perception of how difficult a task will be for our brain. Cleaner designs are judged as requiring less mental power to process; as a result, minimalistic websites are rated higher than complex designs. The main takeaway from all these studies is to go for minimalism. Try to keep the design as simple as you can, utilize white space, use less images and structured layouts.

Minimalism will also serve as a great starting point if you are creating mobile-first websites. Mobile-first approach to web design involves designing for the smallest screen first then adding elements for bigger screen sizes. Data from comScore reveals that smartphones account for 65% of time spent online. The data shows this trend will continue in the near future.

11 Principles Of Creating A Minimalistic Website Design

There are no specific rules or even set definitions for what makes a minimalistic web design. However, a few basic design principles can serve as a framework when you want to incorporate minimalism in your websites. The list covers aspects related to the visual design, content, and user experience.


Is There Such A Thing As Too Minimalistic?

According to GUI design experts, too much minimalism works against your goal of great usability. An example of minimalism taken to extreme is author, Alan Trotter’s, official website. Here it is in all its minimalistic glory:

GUI design experts
Image Source

Just eight words of text and a sea of whitespace. All the underlined text can be clicked, which reveals additional content. An entire short story is revealed a little at a time and at the end, there are about 2082 words on the screen. It’s quite a unique take on minimalistic web design. We suggest you check out the website, the interactivity makes it fun to explore.

Whereas this website manages to work, but for businesses low information density can often confuse visitors. Extreme minimalism can be a great design exercise; however, the final product should have proper navigation in place. After all the main purpose of a website is to help visitors.

15 Examples Of Minimalist And Eye-Catching Website Design

Minimalist and clean web designs look great, are easier to use and have top-notch performance. Three goals every website aims to achieve.

So, how do you go about designing a minimalist interface? The first thing to do before brainstorming is look for inspiration. Find the work Analyzing the work of expert designers will not only inspire you but also give you a feel for current trends.

We reviewed a ton of minimalist web designs, and compiled a huge list that we couldn’t possible include here. (If you are interested in checking out the entire list, leave a comment and we will try to create a detailed series of posts). The original list was whittled down to 15 examples, which are shown below. The criterion used was the extent of adherence to 11 principles of minimalism discussed earlier on.

The examples include screenshots as well as a description of the minimalistic elements. Let’s get minimalist!

1. Ben Pearce

This website highlights the work of a New Zealand sculptor, Ben Pearce. The design is unique and balances creativity with minimalism. The neutral color palette contrasts with the colors of the sculptures, and produces a soothing effect.

Ben Pearce
Image Source

This example is also a case study in paying attention to the client’s needs. The artist’s sculptures are dynamic and seem to shift from one form to another. Using a minimalist design is a stroke of genius here. The sculptures come alive against the backdrop of a clutter-free design.

2. Yuna Kim

This is the design portfolio of an artist based in New York, Yuna Kim. The design merges minimalism with the concretism style of art. The variation in shapes brings to mind the works of German artist, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart and the symmetry of the grid points to influences from François Morellet.

Yuna Kim
Image Source

These minimalistic design elements aren’t purely for aesthetics, each one also serves a function. For example, the shapes fulfill the purpose of visual categorization as well as preview windows. Other notable features are clarity of design and organized structure of information.

3. Lars Tornøe

A Norwegian furniture design studio, Lars Tornøe has an amazingly clean website. The composition of product images is balanced and properly aligned. The colors remain neutral across the different sections, giving a cohesive look to this stunning website. The homepage is distinguished from the other sections through color-coding. As you can see in the image, the homepage has a white background and pale yellow outline. As you switch across sections, these colors are swapped. These little touches enhance interactivity and lend a creative spark.

Lars Tornøe
Lars Tornøe

4. Jean Philippe Nuel

This website has a clean layout and minimal text. The design uses bright and bold images to create the necessary visual impact. Other notable features are the classically minimal plain white background and the segmented image carousel.

Jean Philippe Nuel
Image Source

5. Seedlip Drinks

Seedlip manufactures non-alcoholic spirits created through the timeless method of copper distillation. Their brand philosophy focuses on delivering simple, natural, and organic products with a twist. Their website clearly communicates these aspects because it uses a highly clean and minimalistic interface. They haven’t gone too minimalistic with the page content, which is perfect because they need to communicate a new approach. The overall product package design aligns well with the website design.

Seedlip Drinks
Seedlip Drinks

6. Brave People

This website uses a full-page background video, a classic element of minimalistic websites. A collapsed hamburger menu and powerful typography keeps the visitor visually engaged.

Brave People
Image Source

7. Google Home

Google Home is the tech giant’s answer to Amazon’s Amazon Echo voice-activated virtual home assistant. The official product website of Google Home has an air of calm minimalism about it. The color palette departs a bit from other minimalist websites but remains well balanced. One large image dominates the page and shows a house that has minimalistic interiors. Another thing you will notice is the prominent but not dominant CTA (Call to Action), it’s the color that makes it prominent yet also blends complements the image colors.

Google Home

8. Locomotive

As with most minimalist websites, Locomotive uses a monochrome color palette with a few brighter accents to create visual interest. You won’t notice any clash of colors or contrast, the eye goes straight to the product images. Ecommerce websites can benefit from the minimal approach.


9. Sam Lord Flavin

It’s tough to be creative when you have to keep the elements to a minimum. This website does an amazing job of balancing quirky composition and a minimalistic look. There are no extraneous icons, images, or textures.

Sam Lord Flavin
Image Source

10. WonderSauce

This design agency website has a great combination of simplicity and creativity. Their homepage displays only three elements, the logo, a line of text, and a text-based navigation menu. The logo design contrasts sharply with the typeface used for the text and menu.


11. Symbolset

It must be very tough for a website that sells icons to refrain from highlighting them prominently. Symbolset meets this challenge head on and wins by a mile. Their flat and minimalistic design includes a simple animation that shows off their icons more effectively. The use of negative space draws attention to the text and icons.


12. Quechua

This site is minimalist yet manages to remain highly interactive. The hidden global navigation, a lot of white space and large images of amazing scenery make this website a very immersive experience.


13. Natan

Natan uses an image carousel that covers almost the entire page. The background is white with ghost buttons for navigation. The minimal ecommerce design has excellent font choices and stunning photographs.

Natan Couture

14. Solo

This website has a flat design, a minimalist interface, and monochromatic palette. The traditional choice for a monochromatic palette is usually greyscale, but Solo has brightened up the page with a soft blue and white palette. The colors change across different pages but remain neutral. The entire design perfectly complements the GUI of Solo’s project management tool, overall a great example of minimalism.

Thrive Solo

15. Rotate

Rotate is a design studio that has opted for an ultra-minimalistic website. The homepage shows the logo, tag line and a collapsed menu. The only visual element is a disc that almost blends into the grey-tinged white background. Circles dominate the minimalistic web design landscape. Circles tie in nicely with the Rotate brand name and logo. This design is exceedingly clever in its use of minimalism.

Studio Rotate

Clean and simple websites are more aesthetically pleasing to users. Minimalism embodies these principles, making it the ideal design approach. Minimalistic websites are more user-friendly, mobile-friendly and highly usable.

About The Author

Eva is a marketing major with a keen interest in web design. She is also an explorer and loves to dig into web trends from mobile apps to visual communication and everything in between. Feel free to send her your web design queries or blog related feedback in the comments below.

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