Best Practices for Minimalist Design

With the growing use of mobile devices, minimalism is on the rise. Minimalism brings additional benefits to apps and websites, in the shape of faster loading times and better compatibility between screen sizes. Beautiful minimalist apps combined with great usability are really impressive: an easily navigated, simple app is a very powerful form of communication.

But at the same time minimalism is tricky to get right because it forces designers to say more with less. For those who want to give minimalism a try, make sure that you know some of the basic rules of thumb before starting your design. Here are some tips to making minimalism work for you:

Remove All Unnecessary Elements

Every item within your design should have a purpose

With a minimalist design, every element on the page serves a purpose. The design is stripped of everything except for those elements that are absolutely essential. As Antoine De Saint-Exupery said:

The message is clearly spelled out and the screen is void of unnecessary clutter

Tips: Be severe when deciding what stays and what goes.

  • Forget about purely decorative photos. Images should not be included unless they’re necessary for making your message clear.
  • Get rid of all unnecessary words and communicate as succinctly as you can. Text copy should include only the bare minimum information needed to thoroughly explain your message. At the same time, text copy should contain all meaningful information, because the reduction of meaningful information leads to confusion, and bad user experience.

Create a Single Focal Point per Screen

The less elements on the screen, the more potent the remaining ones are.

The minimalist philosophy centers on the idea that you must design around the content: content is king, and visual layout supports to the king. But the idea is to make the message more clear not just by stripping away distractions, but by keeping focus on content. Thus, a minimalist design should highlight key content and functional elements.

Hierarchy is what makes content easier to understand

Simplify Color Scheme

Limiting the number of used colors

Simplifying the color scheme improves the user experience while having too many colors can have a negative impact on it. However, limiting a color scheme doesn’t mean that you need to design in black and white. The idea with a minimalist design is to use only the colors necessary to create the right visual hierarchy and convey the right mood.

Clear app for iOS use analogous color scheme to visually prioritize tasks.

Tip: Consider using bold colors for your design. Increased font size and an accent color draws the users’ attention to a particular area of the screen without additional visual hints.

A pop of color draws the users’ attention to a particular area of the screen. Image credit: Dribbble

Use Generous Whitespace

Breathing space helps avoid a cluttered look

Whitespace is the blank space between content. It’s an essential ingredient of minimalism — it’s what makes the layout easy to scan. Rather than thinking of whitespace as empty space that needs to be filled with content or functional elements, think of whitespace as frames for your content.

Medium app for iO demonstrates how to create excellent visual hierarchy with good typography and generous whitespace.

Tip: Larger distance forces attention. You can make elements more noticeable by increasing the negative space around them.

Sky app for iOS uses whitespace to create a hierarchy and make content easier to understand

Conclusion

The goal of minimalist design is not in removing as many objects as possible. The ultimate goal is to achieve the simplicity of interaction by creating a frictionless design. And this happens only when a designer combines usability with excellent visual aesthetics.

Sources: Best Practices for Minimalist Design | by Nick Babich | UX Planet