Less is more: Minimalism in digital design

By Kate Meyer, Nielsen Norman Group

Many of today’s most popular design trends (including flat design, large background images, and hidden global navigation) are directly or indirectly influenced by minimalism, a web-design movement that began in the early 2000’s, but borrows its philosophy from earlier movements in the fields of fine art and human–computer interaction. Minimalism sometimes presents as an attempt to prioritise content over the chrome and, when applied correctly, it can help you focus your design to simplify user tasks.

Unfortunately, some designers misinterpret minimalism as a purely visual-design strategy. They cut or hide important elements in pursuit of a minimalist design for its own sake—not for the benefits that strategy might have for users. They’re missing the core philosophy and the historical context of minimalism, and they risk increasing complexity rather than reducing it.

To better grasp and apply minimalist principles, we need to understand the origins of minimalism and its fundamental characteristics.

Home page minimalism in action?
Home page minimalism in action?

What is a minimalist interface?

When employed correctly, the goal of minimalist web design should be to present content and features in a simple, direct way by providing as little distraction from the core content as possible. This strategy often involves removing content or features that don’t support the primary goals of the interface or its users.

Although there is some debate about what exactly qualifies as minimalist web design, there are a few common features that most designers can agree upon. These include flat textures, limited color palettes, and the use of negative space.

Read the full article by Kate Meyer at the Nielsen Norman Group …