Over the years, web design has undergone many trends, which are usually defined by the available tools, technology, and viewing devices.
At the dawn of the internet, pages were full of flashing GIFS, scrolling marquees, and a multitude of multi-colored fonts because those were the tools web designers of the time had at their disposal.
Fast-forward from the early 2000s to present day, and the average website design is completely different. Minimalism is in style, with websites feature lots of whitespace, large background photos—which stretch or contract to fill the screen—and beautiful, plain typography you won’t be able to take your eyes off.
What’s changed? Why are so many sites adopting this style?
Minimalist web design is certainly nothing new—it’s just more popular now than ever before.
One of the main reasons for the minimalism trend is definitely the range of the devices we use to access the web. The tiny screens of our smartphones and the slightly larger tablet screens simply can’t cope with busy designs. Sure, they can easily display lots of information, but in doing so the overall design and look of the website suffers.
The User Experience
Another reason for the rise of minimalism is the growing importance of the user experience: a major factor that every website designer should consider when creating a website.
It doesn’t matter if a website attracts hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people if the user experience is below par because the traffic won’t stick around.
So what is it about minimalist designs? Why do they work for website owners and for visitors?
Minimal designs help the reader focus on what’s important (the actual content) and the main points of interest. Eyes naturally drift towards the important parts of the page: the content area, call-to-actions, highlighted widgets, and headlines.
The Site Owner’s Perspective
Uncluttered pages stop visitors heading off in unwanted directions. Consider a webpage littered with links compared to a page with only a small number of links. With a limitation of choice, there is a higher likelihood of your traffic clicking through to the links that are actually important.
Websites with plenty of white space work really well on portfolio and creative sites for freelancers, photographers, musicians. Their work samples stands out above and beyond the rest of the page.
The Average User’s Perspective
You may not realize it, but when you visit a webpage that’s overwhelmed with graphics, links, and options, your mind becomes stressed. You might not be able to find the thing you came looking for because now you have more choices and more avenues to explore. It could take you an extra few clicks to actually extract the information you came for.
Websites using a minimalist design have quite the opposite effect.
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They’re calming, allowing users to take their time and focus on the elements that matter. There are no distractions. It’s easier to pick out the parts of the page the user is looking for—navigation menus, contact forms, telephone numbers, portfolio items, etc.
Usability testing shows time and again that uncluttered web pages draw people in. They grab attention and they convert.