The word “minimalism” gets thrown around a little too loosely these days.
The term itself is a bit of a buzzword used to describe all kinds of things, from design to writing. Over the years, people have applied it to almost everything you can think of, from music and architecture to art and interior design. Thanks to social media, minimalism, as a concept, has been increasingly popularized by influencers and lifestyle bloggers in recent years.
What’s a Minimalist Design?
At its core, minimalism is a design philosophy that encourages the use of simple forms and negative space to create an efficient and aesthetically pleasing visual layout.
It’s about stripping away all the unnecessary elements from a design until you’re left with a strong, visually appealing framework.
Minimalist website design requires a very specific set of considerations and decision-making skills to pull off successfully. This article will teach you everything you need to know about minimalist web design in general. We’ll also show you how the pros do it the right way.
How Minimalism Came to Be
Minimalism is a concept that’s been around for centuries. According to some, it originated with the Bauhaus school of design in 1919 Germany. It was founded by architect Walter Gropius, who believed that artists should be able to create functional designs using basic shapes and lines – without being distracted by decorations or ornamentations.
It focused on balancing beauty and utility in product design, and it soon became popular in the art world. Bauhaus artists believed that less is more and that simplicity is key to creating beautiful things.
In the 1960s, American artist Donald Judd took minimalism to a whole new level with his famous “boxes” series. These pieces were created by stacking simple geometric shapes on top of each other to create a visually striking effect.
Minimalism began to gain even more traction in the 1970s when artists like Yoko Ono and Robert Morris started experimenting with the concept in their work.
The trend continued into the 80s and 90s with the rise of modernist design and popular minimalist websites like Google (1998) and Yahoo (1994).
In the early 2000s, minimalism made a comeback as a response to the over-the-top design trends that were popular at the time. This new wave of minimalism was more about simplicity and functionality than about stark, austerity-inspired designs.
Nowadays, minimalist website design is still popular among web design enthusiasts.
However, the term is also used to describe many other different things. Minimalist writing, for example, focuses on using short words and sentences with no unnecessary flourishes or embellishments.
The Fundamentals of Minimalism
At its core, minimalism is all about stripping away unnecessary elements and limiting what you include to the bare essentials. Minimalist web design follows a similar principle: it’s all about creating a simplified yet attractive page layout that users can easily navigate through.
To pull it off successfully, minimalist designers must pay attention to a few essentials:
Negative space is one of the most important aspects of minimalist design.
It’s defined as the blank space around and between the elements on a page. You want to make sure you’re using negative space correctly to create a strategic layout.
Google’s homepage is a classic example of minimalist design using negative space.
The page is uncluttered and easy for users to navigate.
Minimalist designers also use negative space to balance the elements in a design. Your layout’s visual appeal will be enhanced and easier to digest when everything appears balanced.
Beyond all that, negative space improves comprehension and readability. Users will remember and process your design better when there’s a clear visual contrast between the different elements.
Black and white photos are another excellent example of how negative space can help create an aesthetically pleasing effect. Notice how most of the photo is just plain, blank space – but it still looks attractive? That’s because negative space makes the subject easier to see.
As you think about negative space, you must also focus on the role of visuals in minimalist design. Just because you’re stripping away elements doesn’t mean the design must be empty and boring.
You can still use engaging visuals to capture users’ attention and add visual interest to your page. Things like typography, icons, and illustrations can all be used to achieve this goal.
Big, bold, and contrasting visuals set the tone of the page and make the user experience more enjoyable. They include images, icons, illustrations, videos, and typography.
Google reports that online users only need 17 milliseconds to form an opinion about a website. The key finding is that the simpler the visuals, the more your website will appeal to users.
With a minimalist design, you can easily achieve that with striking, high-quality, original visuals.
Squarespace nails it easy. From their text boxes to navigation bar, every single visual is big, bold, and in your face, drawing the user to a neat white CTA (two of them), “GET STARTED ->.”
Unique visuals are like a breath of fresh air to your design. Minimalist designers sometimes use them as background, as white/negative space.
However, you can also use them to enhance your site’s appearance, increase usability, draw focus, and build accessibility.
Typography is the cornerstone of minimalist web design because it makes up most of what users will see on your page. It also helps to set the tone of the design, including the mood and atmosphere you’re aiming for.
Designers usually pair up bold headlines with smaller, legible body text to create the much-needed impact in minimalism.
When users visit your site, the first thing they want to find out is what it’s all about. That’s where typography comes in. Headlines should be big, bold and easy to read, while the body text should be smaller and legible.
Typography also adds a layer of visual interest to your site. Different fonts communicate different ideas, which helps enhance the story you’re telling with your design.
Style, size, and spacing give a font a specific personality.
Here’s an example of how minimalist design can use typography to create a powerful impact.
The Museum of Modern Art website uses typography to showcase its brand. The large, bold headlines and smaller body text set the tone for the page and help to keep it minimalistic.
Colour is an integral part of minimalist web design. Your choice of colours will affect the mood and tone of your page. It also has a direct impact on its overall aesthetic appeal.
In a nutshell, we can say that it’s all about striking a balance between bold and soft colours to convey a message successfully. In minimalism, there’s no place for over-the-top colours and flashy effects.
Keep it simple with two or three complementary colours to create a harmonious design. That said, there are no hard and fast rules for using colours in minimalist design.
Colour evokes emotions, helping you engage users on deeper, psychological levels.
Progressive Punctuation creates an ideal minimalistic colour combo by pairing deep Peruvian blue with a textured sandy background.
The dark text colour contrasts the neutral background, guiding the user’s eye to the most important elements on the page.
BOUGUESSA is another classic example of a site we call all learn from. The website’s colour palette is limited to a model donning a rich brown suit and sitting on a cream couch to deliver a modish sense of fashion and elegance.
Minimalistic sites don’t usually come loaded with clutter, especially for the navigation bar.
In a minimalist design, you want to ensure that your users can easily find what they’re looking for on your site.
The most complicated navigation bar you’ll ever encounter in a minimalist design is a dropdown menu. Pop-out sub-menus are out of the question in minimalism.
It’s important to keep your navigation simple and intuitive, yet it should be advanced enough so that users don’t get lost. If you need complicated menus, go with a grid approach to display them side-by-side.
That way, they will nicely fit into the layout and won’t take users’ attention away from the most important content on your page.
The MALINA website is an excellent example of how to keep things simple while eliminating the need for an over-complicated navigation bar.
- Visual Balance
As we’ve already mentioned, minimalism is all about creating a sense of balance and harmony in your design.
Achieving visual balance is key to making your page look polished and professional.
There are a few ways to achieve visual balance in minimalist design:
- Use an even number of elements on each side of the page
- Use symmetrical shapes
- Create a focal point and use supporting elements to lead the eye towards it
- Use light and dark tones to create contrast
In minimalist design, less is more. So, when it comes to using images and other graphic elements, always ask yourself if the added visual will help or hinder your message.
If you want your site to be functional and practical for users, you need to simplify it.
A cluttered website is not user-friendly. It’s hard on the eyes and confusing for visitors looking for specific information.
When it comes to minimalist design, less is more. That means that you need to be ruthless in cutting out any elements that don’t add value to your page.
Get rid of all the clutter and focus on creating a streamlined design easy on the eyes.
The Japanese clothing company MUJI website does a great job of keeping things simple. The design is clean and clutter-free, making it extremely easy to use.
10 Striking Minimal Website Designs to Kickstart Your Creative Process
Let’s be honest: building a website from scratch is no easy feat.
The process is lengthy, complex, and can be downright frustrating at times.
To ease your creative block, we’ve put together 10 of the most striking minimal site designs that will inspire you to create your own minimalist masterpiece!
It never gets more creative than what Quip does with its minimal website.
By its name, no one can guess that the company specializes in toothbrushes. So, the company decided to place them at the centre, surrounded by negative spaces, directing the user’s eyes towards their sliding product photos.
While their cantered toothbrushes pull the user towards the middle of the page, they also serve to direct the user to the strategically placed CTA, “Shop Now,” at the left side of the page.
As a plus, the black and blue colour palette pull out an incredible contrast with their product photos to make them pop.
Apple’s site is a perfect representation of minimalism – every element on their website has a purpose and doesn’t distract from it.
The design is as minimal as it gets, but the choice of using a single picture as their focus makes it even more minimal.
The best part is that they have managed to keep their branding and identity strong throughout the years without changing their website drastically. That is not an easy feat!
The company strategically places imagery to direct users’ eyes to their popular products. In this way, Apple makes sure that the users see what interests them most and keeps their attention where it matters the most – on the product itself.
3. Huge Inc.
As a creative agency, Huge nailed down its minimalist design beautifully. Their website is highly functional and features a left sidebar that guides visitors’ navigation.
But the best part is that they managed to incorporate a unique yet straightforward navigational tool – just tapping, and the website redirects you to the next item. They don’t have to click on anything. A great example of minimalism done right!
Their website’s homepage is also clean and polished, with minimal text to ensure the page’s content doesn’t overwhelm new users.
Huge also nails it with the small details – like the black that surrounds the logo and the second half of realtor.com, all signify cohesiveness.
4. Reducing the Obvious
Reducing the Obvious is one of the most straightforward website designs on the list. It’s as compelling as it’s mysterious, with minimal information on their homepage.
It’s as inviting as it’s helpful, with a tiny “use button to navigate” button on the bottom-left side of the page.
The design is very clever and innovative, creating an interactive interface for visitors.
In essence, the website design is simple yet fun and interactive, which adds a touch of playfulness to the minimalistic feel.
The site’s functionality works to keep users’ attention on specific areas of interest – the products they offer. A great example of “less is more.”
Thefunderstorms is a creative firm that specializes in creating emotionally driven brands. Their minimalist website design is one of the most visually pleasing on the list.
The entire home page is dominated by simple yet engaging crossword puzzles that lead visitors to the next level of information.
The company utilizes specific imagery related to its branding, with a few details scattered on the side of the page.
It’s minimalistic and simple, yet it has an engaging element that keeps users coming back for more content—a great example of how minimalism works best when mixed with creativity.
6. Design Co
Minimalism enables brands to convey their purpose better than their busier counterpart. Design Co knows it and acts on it.
The use of a single image with a bold mission statement enhances the minimalistic feel while also giving an idea about their brand and products.
They have created a minimalist website design that focuses on their brand, rather than being distracted by different imagery, text or buttons.
The company also leverages contrast by pairing a blue background with white text, making the text stand out without being harsh on the eyes.
The name Evoulve in itself inspires curiosity; so is its website design. A great example of minimalism done right.
The website consists of a couple of images and text. It goes without mentioning the super-enlarged logo at the top-left side and a few more details at the bottom of the page.
It’s as simple as it gets, but not without being impactful. It gives users just enough information to understand what the company does while also engaging to keep them interested.
8. Tim Brack
Tim Brack utilizes negative space and overlapping elements to the core, create a clean and inviting homepage.
Additionally, he uses a picture of himself and a pig to highlight a sense of playfulness and humour, ensuring the user is only exposed to relevant information, with nothing else to distract their attention.
Aside from that, he also mentions a few projects in small font – but not to the point of distraction.
It’s minimalistic and clean yet engaging and fun at the same time, which is what makes it one of our favourite website designs for this year.
9. Tinker Watches
Minimalism is best accomplished when a brand understands what brings visitors to their site. Tinker Watches are masters of that.
The entire website focuses on their watches without being too flashy with text or images.
They have created a notebook-style design for their product pages, allowing users to click through different styles and see how it looks in real life – an excellent example of functionality within minimalism.
The design is inspired by their product, ensuring that users are only drawn to relevant information about what they offer.
10. ETQ Amsterdam
When you open the ETQ Amsterdam website, the first thing you see is the 30% off sale banner. It stands out while also informing visitors about their sales without being too cluttered.
The next thing you see is the entire collection of shoes on offer, with whitespaces dividing each category to make it easy for users to browse through what they like.
They have leveraged minimalism by using negative space to emphasize all product information, making it easier for visitors to find what they need.
There are no distractions — only high-quality imagery and product information.
That is minimalism at its best.
9 Best Minimal WordPress Themes for Design
If you’re a designer, it’s all too common to be working on multiple projects at once.
To manage your time effectively and achieve maximum productivity, you need a powerful tool that will simplify the design process as much as possible.
Fortunately, there are many excellent minimal WordPress themes available online that can do just that!
Here are 9 of the best minimal WP themes you could use to take your site to the next level!
1. Monochrome Pro
The immensely popular Monochrome Pro is starting our list, a fully-responsive WP theme with a pixel-perfect design.
We love Monochrome Pro because of its incredible versatility.
It’s popular because you can build any website using this theme!
- Supports automatic setup: You can import the demo plus the recommended plugins with one click and get your site up and running in no time.
- Features a theme customizer that you can use to play around with the theme’s colour and other settings for a more personalized design.
- Real-time preview to view the changes you make right away
- It supports woocommerce just in case you want to set up an online store!
- High-quality code: Your websites will load fast and look great across all screen sizes!
- Overall, Monochrome Pro is definitely our top pick – especially if you’re looking for a clean minimal WP theme to base your site off.
2. Olsen Light
Are you looking for a theme that’s easy on the eye?
Well, look no further than this lightweight minimalist WordPress theme, Olsen Light.
For starters, the theme is clean, elegant, and as classy as they come. While it was ideally designed for minimalist bloggers, the theme can be used for virtually any type of website – even creative portfolios.
- This theme has plenty of customization options, such as custom logo and typography control, unlimited colours, and a responsive layout that adapts to mobile devices.
- Supports automatic setup: Just import the demo content, and you’ll have your site ready in no time.
- Theme customization is fun with the built-in theme customizer.
- High-quality code: Your website will load faster than before!
Price: $34/year or a one-time fee of $249
SeedProd is a minimal multipurpose theme with 100+ themes to choose from!
Some of the best features include:
- Responsive layout for mobile devices
- Powerful options to help you personalize your design, down to each font and colour.
- It comes with a drag-and-drop page builder so you can create high-quality pages in no time.
- Supports automatic setup: Just import the demo content with one click, and your site is ready.
- High-quality code for your website, so it’s fast, responsive, SEO friendly, mobile-friendly, retina optimized – you name it!
- Not compatible with most page builders
- The free version has limited features
4. Laura Lite
Designed specifically for fashion bloggers, Laura Lite combines beauty and functionality.
The design itself is clean and minimalistic with a blog-style layout.
It’s also responsive, retina-ready, and includes plenty of valuable features for your convenience.
Some examples include:
- Custom colour option to make the design truly yours.
- One-click demo import for hassle-free setup.
- Supports Woocommerce so you can start selling online right away!
- The theme customizer lets you tweak the design to suit your needs.
Divi theme is a powerful, multipurpose WordPress theme. The theme can be easily adapted to be as minimalistic or as extravagant as you want it to be.
The best part of using the theme is the vast majority of high-quality layouts and templates that come with it. It’s straightforward to use, with a simple drag and drop page builder that makes building a new page a breeze.
If you don’t have any experience with page builders, then Divi is the page builder to try.
- Powerful page builder
- 800+ pre-made layouts, with an endless list of other layouts to import
- Responsive Design
- It comes with integrated split testing
- No free version
6. Simple & Elegant
The name says it all!
Simple & Elegant is a perfectly crafted, clean minimal WP theme that can adapt to multiple types of websites.
It’s easy to set up and comes with multiple customization options. The theme features a visual composer and revolution slider that you can use to add stunning visual details to your site.
Live customizer: You can view the changes you make in real-time
Simple layout and clean code
The free version is limited
Electric is another excellent example of a minimalist WP theme, boasting 24+ homepage layouts to choose from. Whether you’re looking to set up a website for a shop, freelancer map, portfolio, or business – the theme can adapt to almost any type of website.
The layout is highly customizable, with an option to change colours, backgrounds, and styling options.
- Easy customization via the wp customizer
- Good for business websites
- Megamenu builder
- 24+ website layouts to choose from
- Fully responsive
- No free version
Pile is a highly specialized WP theme custom-built for portfolios.
The theme features a drag-and-drop interface for easy customization, allowing you to change fonts, colour schemes, and backgrounds.
It boasts sophisticated yet straightforward layouts, making it perfect for creative professionals.
- Fully customizable: colour, fonts, and coding. No coding is necessary
- Easy customization
- SEO friendly
Only five layouts to choose from
If you’re a freelancer looking for the perfect, minimal WP theme for your portfolio, Zebre is the way to go.
Zebre features a simple and elegant design, focusing on showcasing your work in an easy-to-digest format.
The layouts are responsive and customizable for personalization. The theme can adapt to multiple types of websites, from portfolio pages to hubs for writers, artists, photographers.
It also includes WooCommerce integration, so you can start selling right away!
- Beautiful design
- Retina ready for visual clarity on high-res displays
- Responsive layout that adapts to any device
- No free version, a one-time
7 Powerful Tips to Achieve Minimalism in Your Website Design
Using a minimalist design on your website shouldn’t be taken lightly.
A successful design can affect user experience, and conversions – which is why we’ve come up with these seven tips that we think will help you create (and maintain) a well-balanced, minimalist design.
1. Set up your font styles
Your font style is one of the most critical parts of any web design. By experimenting with colours and different fonts, you should find the perfect fit for your website or blog.
2. Use white space to let your page breathe
Using white space is crucial if you’re trying to achieve a minimalist effect. If everything is clustered, your design will feel cluttered and overpacked. Leaving some room between elements will help your site stand out and improve its overall design.
3. Create contrasting elements
Contrasting colours are also crucial for achieving a minimalist design. Using contrasting colours for fonts, images, and backgrounds will help your site stand out, drawing attention to the most important element on each page.
4. Stay on the Upper Fold
Your site’s upper fold is important. It’s the first area of your page that visitors will see, so you should ensure it has all of your most important content! Make sure it’s visible, easy to understand, and that it stands out from the rest of your site.
5. At most 3 Colours
Using only three colours is a great way to achieve minimalism in your design. You can represent each “type” of content with its own colour to make it easier for visitors to distinguish between the different sections of your website.
6. One Big Photo
Having one big photo on the page isn’t just a trend – people love it because it’s easy to digest. Having one large photo is an excellent way to show off your designs or products, especially if you use a non-intrusive background that keeps the focus on the image itself!
7. Use the Grid system
Apply a grid system to your design for a more uniform look. Using the same elements for sizing, spacing, and alignment will help keep everything looking uniform throughout your pages.
Your Background in White
Simple, don’t overcomplicate your site. A white background is easy to see on any device, and it’s also more “modern” than a black, grey or other dark background.
Most importantly, white doesn’t distract the user in any way. Instead, it directs them to your content and helps enhance it too.
The 80/20 Rule
Finally, you should use the 80/20 rule when designing your website. This is because 80% of visitors look at only 20% of the content on your site. By redesigning that 20% into something more minimalist, you’ll give more focus to the things that actually impact conversions.