Design is essentially communication. The whole purpose of design is to convey a message. Even the most complex art forms of greatest artists convey some message and that’s what makes them great.
Our history and culture has nurtured our minds to interpret visual communication in certain ways. We understand many symbols and shapes without the need of any explanation.
Minimalist design is present all around us. It could be present in our homes, our workspaces, our furniture, and our gadgets and so on.
Let us understand minimalist design with the example of a wrist watch. There are wrist watches that display many things on a single dial or screen. And yet there are other watches that display just the date and time. And finally we have watches that display just time or date and time but these watches do not have any numbers on the dial to indicate the time. The dial’s circumference is clean and yet when we see the watch, we know what time it is.
Such a watch uses your ability to understand time just by looking at the needles without the help of any numeric reference.
Today we will study minimalism in digital design such as web design and mobile apps. As we can all see, a web design needs to convey much more than a watch. A mobile app may need to convey messages as well as its own unique functionality. Minimalism in digital design can be much more complicated than that in a wrist watch.
So here are a few important characteristics of minimalist design that can serve as guidelines to create minimalist digital designs.
Less is more
There is no doubt that minimalist design means less design. But when we have many things to communicate, how do we create less design? The first step is to cut down on the unnecessary stuff. Focus only on the single most important message you want to communicate. You need to decide what the most important aspect of your message is and forget everything else when designing a screen.
Maximize White Space
Minimalist design is at its best when created with lots of empty white space. Do not get tempted to cover all the screen space with your message. Remember, you may throw everything at your audience but they will accept only what appeals to them. White spaces with just a single point of focus do not look offending and draws immediate attention of the audience. White space amplifies the message in a way that it becomes easier to remember and helps build a connection.
Use One or Two Colours
Colour is an important element in design and is often used to create distinction. A minimalist design often uses a single colour so that colour itself does not cause distraction. In some cases, we use two colours with one base colour and the second colour used to give directions or create distinctions. Using multiple colours might look attractive but its use in minimalist design is restricted to your logo or first screen.
Use One Font or One Font family
A minimalist design relies a lot on text variance to highlighting and differentiation. Using a single font is the best way to design a minimalist design. Distinctions can be brought about by varying font size, weight and outlines. If your design demands more, you may want to use another font of the same font family but never go for fonts from different font families.
One focal Point Per Screen
A digital design is often viewed as a screen at any point in time. Make sure that you only communicate one message in each screen (scrolling down in websites bring a second screen). Even when you use scroll to show multiple sections on a website, make sure all messages are related and the relationship flows in a natural way.
Use only Flat style 2D Images
If you have to use images in your minimalist design, make sure the images are similar in look and feel. Images with 3D look generally break the minimalist pattern of a digital design. Images used need to have same tone and texture and should not interfere with the message you want to convey.
When talking about website design and mobile apps, navigation plays a very important role. Your audience wants the freedom to quickly jump around to most relevant sections of the website or app. They should be able to do so with minimal clicks and with utmost ease. Navigation should always be clearly visible whether it is in an expanded or collapsed form.
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