Using Minimalism in Web Design

What is minimalism?

Minimalism is a concept or a mindset that can be applied to a range of disciplines. It’s found across visual arts, music, film and is an art movement that gets its roots in post–World War II Western art. In modern times we usually hear it used to describe a lifestyle or a design approach. When it comes to a lifestyle, minimalism means clarity, purpose, and intentionality. It means promoting the things we most value and removing everything else. This approach is very useful in design for a number of reasons. In this article, we’ll look at how we can integrate minimalism & web design to the benefit of our users. 

Stripping back all the elements, experimenting with colours, simpler navigation or even the complete removal of all elements are all examples of using minimalist principles. We’ll look at the main principles and elements and how we can use them when designing our own sites. 

How does minimalism & web design work for us?

Minimalism in web design means simplifying the interface. We can do this by removing unnecessary elements which helps users think faster and promotes clarity. So, using minimalist design principles means we’re able to reduce user’s cognitive load, stress, agitation, and frustration. 

Reducing a website to only its most necessary elements means designers have to accept consequences that impact both the user interface  and the content of the site. So, including the necessary features with the goal of a clear interface poses a challenge. However, by following minimalist principles we can create a feeling of calmness and clarity for the user.

Check out some examples of award winning minimalist designs.

The main principles of minimalism & web design:

  • user-friendly interface;
  • hidden navigation;
  • no more than three colours at once;
  • lots of white/empty space;
  • experimentation with fonts;
  • no excess details such as colour transitions, shadows, or textures;
  • no unnecessary buttons.


In the other words, do more with less.

Of course, there are many other benefits minimalism can offer. Besides being a style it’s also timeless, so a redesign for aesthetics’ sake won’t be needed for some time! Minimalist websites are also very easy to make responsive and boast faster load times too.

This Minimalism web design uses size to signal importance

Visual components of minimalism & web design

Maximized Negative/White Space

Removing or excluding elements from a web page necessarily leaves empty space. Negative space (also called white space) is the name given to the empty areas of an interface.

Negative space has been called “practically synonymous with” and “the backbone of” minimalist interfaces. Many minimalist designers use it as a tool to try to direct users’ attention and allow them to digest content more easily.

Bold colours

Bold colours contrast well with both white and black backgrounds.  When used as background colours themselves, they can look almost as minimal as white or black. However, they’re used t0 convey a bit more emotion and meaning.

Sans-serif typography

Sans-serif fonts look cleaner than serif fonts, which is why they’re so often relied upon by bigger businesses. Like colour, bold or large typography becomes another tool for communicating meaning when there are few elements on the page. If we choose our words wisely, they can be the most captivating aspects of our websites. 

Flat design

There has been an overwhelming shift away from skeuomorphism. Now designers tend toward purely digital representations of things. this means no more physical metaphors. Flat interfaces don’t make use of any of the obvious highlights, shadows, gradients, or other textures that make UI elements look glossy or three-dimensional.

If we fail to clarify that interactive tap targets are interactive then our design becomes unusable as the user is then forced to work out what’s clickable and what’s not. This complicated thinking goes against everything that minimalism is supposed to achieve.

A minimalist visual aesthetic will certainly make our designs cleaner, but we shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to designing UIs. Everything on the page must be intuitive to the user. 

Designing minimal UI and content

Some of the biggest concerns when designing a minimalist website are clarity and choosability. We can achieve these goals by the following:

Clarity – Get rid of visual clutter

If it’s not useful to the majority of users hide it. For example, moving a less-important navigation item into an off-canvas menu can make a UI much more clear. The thinking behind this is: why force the user to think about its meaning when they won’t even use it anyway?

Providing fewer options for a more streamlined experience

As described by Hicks’ law, more options to choose from equals a slower response time. When there are too many options, the user may suffer from decision paralysis. This is the inability to choose an option as a result of cognitive overload.

Using visual hierarchy to decrease cognitive load

The visual hierarchy should indicate the importance of each element. This means we’ll need to visually prioritize certain elements to help the user understand exactly what’s happening.

An example of minimalism in the design of a hero banner