Minimalist website design has been with us for years, yet it remains strangely alluring and ever popular. There’s something innately beautiful about a crisp white page, a succinct tagline or a perfect typeface that never fails to wow.
Of course, there are many practical advantages of this type of design too, especially when it comes to landing pages. Minimalist websites boast faster load times and can be quicker to design and build. They are aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. They let the user know immediately, without any fuss, what the site is about. And done well, they look like the epitome of class and good design.
So what is minimal design all about?
The purpose of minimal design is based on just that – purpose. It’s all about reducing a design to its essential components, focusing on the core goal of the website and nothing else. All non-essential items (such as textured backgrounds, extraneous words and social sharing buttons) are removed in order to allow the user to focus on what is important.
For landing pages, the crucial thing is that there is usually only one goal. This could be for the user to click on a sign-up button, fill in their email address or download something, but whatever it is, there is only one thing to do. (And in those instances where there are other actions or choices, these are often subdued in colour or smaller in size, and certainly don’t draw attention away from the main goal.)
But just because the page is simple doesn’t mean that the site isn’t complex or that the design hasn’t been thoroughly thought-out. On the contrary, the design of a minimalist website needs to be incredibly precise.
It’s all in the detail
Thin lines or dots between elements, use of a very specific colour palette, drop shadows or coloured borders on images, typographical coherence…the success of a minimalist landing page lies in the detail.
Choice and placement of elements is essential, as is size, colour contrast, text, typography and white space. When you haven’t got many items to play with, the smallest subtleties of each element become even more significant.
Here are some tips on what to think about:
Size, proportion and placement
When you have only a few elements on your landing page, you need a good eye for size, proportion and placement. Your design needs to engage with your user emotionally and be aesthetically pleasing without seeming to try too hard.
At the same time, you will want to ensure that your layout is conducive to the action you want your visitors to gravitate towards. As with art, architecture and design in general, using standard theories of proportion at the design stage will help you to get this just right.
Although a lot of minimalist web designs stick to black, grey and white, bright colours are definitely possible, and a strong accent colour can be all it takes to lift your site from mundane to marvellous.
It’s vital to choose your colour palette wisely at the start of the project, tied in with any logos or branding if necessary, and to think carefully about the best ways in which to use colour and colour contrast to draw your users’ attention to the right parts of the pages and encourage the action or interaction you want. Don’t forget to use transparency where appropriate too.
When you’re going for the minimalist approach, every word counts. You need to be succinct in your message and precise in your choice of vocabulary, without forgetting that your words must speak to your target audience.
A landing page may well require you to explain what the product or service is all about. Here, a simple but memorable tagline will often do the trick – think of Disneyland’s ‘The happiest place on earth’ or PS2’s ‘Live in your world. Play in ours.’ Minimalist web copy should be like good poetry – every word should be well chosen and purposeful.
Beautiful typography can make or break a website and when you have only a few elements on the page, the impact of lettering makes a huge impact.
Whether your website is sophisticated and elegant or funky and upbeat, your typography should reflect your brand and say something about your message. Since you have only a few words to say, your typography may well be large and striking – pay close attention to placement, proportion and colour with fonts in the same way as the other elements on the page.
Finally, make sure that any combinations of typefaces fit well together and are appropriate for the text itself. You might even go so far as to have a typeface designed specifically for the project.
Use of negative space is an essential part of minimalist design, and you will need to pay attention to the things you choose not to put on the page, as well as the things that you do select. Plenty of white space around key elements lets the design breathe and draws the reader’s eye to the elements themselves.
Minimalist web design should ooze confidence and style. But honed to its barest elements, there is no place to hide, so make sure you have paid thorough attention to every tiny detail.
Successful minimal landing pages look and feel effortless. They are easy to use, devoid of distraction and flow naturally, allowing your core message and branding to shine through.
Try following the above guidelines to creating your own minimal landing page and see the impact upon your users.