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An Examination of Minimalist Design

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Cloud Gate

This is a guest article contributed by Tara Hornor.


Minimalism in design has been around for some time, and today it seems to be a welcome alternative to overly busy and unnecessarily cluttered websites, posters, ads, and logos. For those new to this art form, the concept of minimalism is mostly concerned with stripping away excess and strategically placing remaining elements. The result can be a calming, yet powerful design that is streamlined to convey its message. You can find minimalism in all art forms, from architecture to fashion to logo design.

To get the most out of a minimalist design, whether it be for something as small as a logo or large as a billboard, be sure to use the right elements correctly. Color, layout, white space, graphics &  typography all play an important role in minimalism. Below we look at these principles of design and how they relate to minimalism.

Opposite House Hotel

Minimalist Color Choices

In minimalist design, color choice is strategic and the amount of colors used, should be kept to a minimum. Black, grey and white are the most powerful colors and allow for a single accent color to have a greater impact.

All colors are acceptable if they are used properly; however, the colors with the greatest contrast are generally used together. Therefore, most designers choose bold and bright primary colours for minimalist design.

Johnny Favourite Website

Effective Minimalist Layout

A minimalist design layout is especially challenging because every element with which you are working, is essential. Content for websites and posters should be laid out in such a way that the viewer can find what they need without much thought. In other words, the page should make sense.

Jan Reichle Website

White Space

Negative space serves to give power to the small bits of information that it surrounds. The greater the empty space, the more power an object within it gains. Negative space also serves to structure a group of elements and create balance.

Lady Gaga Poster

Graphics

The use of images in minimalism is very intentional. Designers choose graphics for their effectiveness and in minimalist design use them when the image is more effective than a written message. Graphics should be used sparingly and strategically, and should be relevant to the topic.

Lachlan Bailey Website

Typography

Typography in minimalism should be just as strategic as any other element. In any design including minimalism, no more than two or three styles of fonts are appropriate. Many designs use one font for headlines, one for body, and possibly one for navigation on websites or for any special text or subheadings. Usually more than three types makes the design look cluttered and hard to understand.

Butterflies Remember Poster

Minimalism on the Web

In the last ten years, minimalist website design has become quite trendy. Unfortunately, some designers have misunderstood the idea behind minimalism and create web pages void of content that simply don’t make sense. However, at the root of the minimalist movement, great designers have created stunning websites that are not only pleasing to look at, but are also easy to navigate. While minimalist design is not practical nor thematically possible for every every website, those websites that can use it should take advantage.

Up & Onward Website

Minimalism in the Media

Brochures, packaging, and ad campaigns have all seen their share of the minimalist design. However, it is in posters and logos that you see it really take hold. Many designers choose to use this streamlined design for everything from movie posters, to band posters, to ad posters. The reason for this is the effectiveness of conveying a strong message quickly and cleanly. Used correctly, minimalist posters are designed to use each of its elements to send one message. The result is usually a poster that is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

The Buggles Poster

Minimalism in logos

Minimalism in logos is an important concept, since the purpose of a logo is to be easily remembered and associated with a company. As a result, minimalist logos are often the most popular type of logo design since it keeps the logo simple enough to be memorable. The tricky part of a minimalist logo is to make a design that is easily recognised for the company it represents, while also reflecting the brand’s goals.

Editor’s note: You can view many of my minimalism bookmarks here.

What are some of your favourite minimalist designs?

*Tara Hornor has a degree in English and writes about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She works for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers postcards, posters, brochure printing, business cards and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.



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23 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Joe Hewes Reply

    Keep it Simple! First page in my design book- thanks for the examples though- I particularly like the butterfly text piece. Nice post Tara

  • David Nemes Reply

    Nice article. I really like minimal design.

  • Moon Themes Reply

    Minimalist designs are on trend, because a design should be clean, to navigate easily.

  • Macy Reply

    I agree keep it simple and impact! Too flashy is confusing.

  • hollister uk Reply

    There’s visibly a new bundle in order to identify relating to this. I just believe you’ve made various good points inside elements likewise.

  • Mari Baskin Reply

    In addition to Joe Hewes’ comment about the “butterfly text piece,” designers need to spell correctly or the design won’t fly.

  • Paul Shively Reply

    This will be the third blog I have been included in, on the topic of minimal design.

    In all reality if something doesn’t serve a purpose, the next question should be if you need it at all.

    Having said that my site under \Minimalism on the Web\ is a simple cargocollective.com layout that many people can easily obtain. So give cargo the minimalist credit, not me.

  • sawebdesigns Reply

    I love minimal design because its clean and easy to navigate

  • Boombox Creative Reply

    Minimalism! One of my favourite styles of design..
    One of the things I find interesting is that when the project/content/matter is loaded and strong, minimalism always steals the show in representing it.

    Loved the article Tara..

  • Greg Signmaker Reply

    GRT ARTCL. PTY ABT TH SPLNG.
    Does this count as minimalism?
    It does get your attention.

  • Virtual Agents Reply

    Minimalism is probably the simplest and cleanest form of design but some people tend to overlook the functionality of the elements involved in this kind of design. As you have said, some websites take minimalism to a point of lacking content. Minimalism is about creating the greatest impact using the least amount of elements.

  • bellingen web design Reply

    Minimalism is the new black… no really it is! and i agree with the comment above regarding functionality.

  • The Job Ware Reply

    Minimalism this form of art is new for me. Amazing and great JOB! I was amaze by the color and the layouts from architecture to logo design.

  • Tara Hornor Reply

    @Joe Hewes – I agree! Simplicity is always an important asset to every great design; thanks for the tip!

  • Tara Hornor Reply

    @David Nemes – I do too! Glad you enjoyed the article.

    @Moon Themes – Exactly!

    @Macy – Yes, too flashy equals a message that goes unnoticed.

    @hollister uk – Thanks!

    @Mari Baskin – Spelling and grammar are definitely a very important element. Thanks for the reminder!

    @Paul – You are so right; I believe the best designs are those in which every piece is a valuable and needed part. And kudos to you on choosing a layout that allows for a very navigable minimalist design.

  • Mark Cook Reply

    Nice article Tara,

    I love minimal design too, for me it’s one of my favourite ways to express design for the fact that when you go down the minimal route the concept has to do all the work as there is no place for it to hide!
    The minimal route, for me, works a lot better. I like very detailed design work too, I can appreciate the craft, effort and visual pleasure such work brings, but a good minimal design communicates a message much more quickly and effectively as it tends to cut to the chase.

    :)

  • Tara Hornor Reply

    @sawebdesigns – I love them too, for this exact reason. :)

    @Boombox Creative – Thanks! So true, minimalism combined with strong content makes for killer designs.

    @Greg – Ha ha! Great point! The one main problem that can occur with minimalism is when a designer takes it too far and leaves out important interpretive or navigable elements.

    @Virtual Agents – Well put! You are exactly right.

    @belligen web design – Definitely the new black! :) Minimalism has become quite the trend these days.

    @The Job Ware – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope it gave you a great overview of minimalism.

  • Tara Hornor Reply

    @Mark Cook – I agree. I think that intricate designs definitely have a place, but like you say, minimalism does an awesome job (when done right) of communicating a message clearly.

  • Sitegeeks Web Design Reply

    Minimalism is the way to go. We have been using this approach the past year and our clients seems to love it. The sites look great, they are much easier to navigate and it works good when our clients don’t have nice photos or they are not sure what they want..

  • Johny Favourite Reply

    Thanks for including my site! And the rather arrogant quote as well! :D

  • daniel maul Reply

    JUST – Keep it simple!

    - just another awesome post.

  • Rachele Reply

    You can find minimalism in all art forms, from architecture to fashion to logo design.

  • Zebra Themes Reply

    Minimalism was and is all i needed. I make sure my designs should convey the right message to my viewers.

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