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Minimalism vs. Skeuomorphism: The Future of Website Design!

By Eva Barnes , Feb 16 2017
Web Design

Featured Image: iStock/PeterHermesFurian

There was a time when Skeuomorphism was everywhere. Then there was a time when it became one of the most hated trends amongst designers, leading to its extinction. But it all changed, when the Apple Watch was unveiled in 2014; it had a clock-like interface, which made it apparent that Skeuomorphism was back from the dead!

The silhouette of Skeuomorphism started to shape during the 1980s. A strong champion of this design was Apple’s late CEO and Founder, Steve Jobs. The idea behind this design was simple, to form a graphical interface which could be easily understood by any user.  To make it as such, inspiration was drawn from day to day items, which was then integrated into the design. An elementary example of this would be the Recycle Bin we see on our Desktops. The bin resembles an ordinary trash can, making it more identifiable and its function more lucid, for the users.

our Desktops
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There was one issue with Skeuomorphism however, it had too much clutter. As users became more familiarized with the concepts of computing and got a hang of the ropes, visual metaphors became unnecessary for their guidance. This epiphany led to another conclusion; users didn’t need nor have to put up with all the clutter a Skeuomorphic design brought along with it.

This alarming fact, is what led designers to start searching for and experimenting with different designs for a better user interface, to in turn improve their site’s user experience. Thus, resulting in the trend for minimalistic designs trend.

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The main difference between a Minimalist design and Skeuomorphism is that Minimalism is a design philosophy while the latter is a design principle. Either way, for us they are both concepts that can shape the UI of a site.

Minimalist design is the complete opposite of Skeuomorphism, they are as different as potatoes are from broccoli, the US is from Iran, Legally Blonde is from Star Wars and your toe is from your eye. I guess till now their dissimilarity might have instilled deep enough in your brain, for us to move forward.

My Own Bike Minimalist Web Design
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Minimalist web design stands steadfast on the belief that ‘less is more’, but it should not be confused with Flat Design, as it often enough is. Both are similar concepts, but they are decisively not the same.

Google is often credited to be the avant-gardist of minimalist web interfaces, exhibiting the style in its interfaces, since its beta offering in the 1990s. However, the mid 2000s was when the minimalist movement gained momentum in sites’ UIs; with lots of negative space, lesser content, a restricted color palette and big typography.  

google search
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The trouble with minimalist design is that it can become too minimalistic at times. At one point designers are told to subtract as many elements as from the page as they can, while on the other hand they are told that their site has too much white space. These contradictions are what confuse designers, because of which they are unable to master this type of UI. The trick is to add only the essential content and to make sure that the site looks simple yet appealing

Now that we have covered both design types, it is time to state the obvious, minimalist is what is ‘in’ now, but Skeuomorphism is still not completely out of style. Our prediction is that the reign of minimalism will last for a few more years, till both designs have to take the back seat while a new design trend drives the web. Either way we will see both of them in the future or maybe a successful combination of the two. We’ll have to end this here, but we’d love to know, which is your favorite amongst the two?

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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