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The Power of Minimalist Design

When less is more: the article giving insights into definition, features and benefits of minimalism applied in UI design for websites and mobile applications.

Simple doesn’t mean primitive. Less isn’t vague. Short doesn’t say little. Air doesn’t equal emptiness. Today we are talking about minimalism.


In the book “The More of Less”, Joshua Becker said: “You don’t need more space. You need less stuff.” Minimalism is often discussed nowadays in different spheres of life and work, and diverse directions of design are not the exception. Let’s see what are its benefits and points to consider.


What Is Minimalism?

Actually, minimalism is a word of broad meaning used in various spheres of human activity. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”. Being applied to more and more fields, it saves its core traits: meaningful and simple.


Minimalism as a direction of visual design got especially popular in the 1960s in New York when new and older artists moved toward geometric abstraction in painting and sculpture. The movement found its impression in the artworks associated with Bauhaus, De Stijl, Constructivism and so on. In diverse spheres of visual arts, key principle of minimalism was leaving only essential part of features to focus the recipient’s attention as well as support general elegance. Lines, shapes, dots, colors, spare space, composition – everything should serve its function being thoughtfully organized. Today we can meet minimalism in a variety of life spheres: architecture, arts, photography, all kinds of design, literature, music and even food presentation.


“A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn’t be concealed as part of a fairly different whole. The shapes and materials shouldn’t be altered by their context”, said Donald Judd, an American artist associated with minimalism. Working in this style, designers seek to make the interfaces simple but not empty, stylish but not overloaded. They tend to use negative space, bold color and font combinations, and multifunctional details making the simplicity elegant. The line dividing simple and primitive is very thin. That is why not all the designers take the risk of trying this direction: some may think it looks too decent, the others don’t find enough ways to show much with fewer elements.


Characteristics of Minimalism


Main features of minimalism often mentioned by designers include:


  • Simplicity

  • Clarity

  • Expressive visual hierarchy

  • High attention to proportions and composition

  • Functionality of every element

  • Big amount of spare space

  • High attention ratio to core details

  • Typography as a significant design element

  • Eliminating non-functional decorative elements


Surely, the list can be continued but even the given positions show that minimalism in UI sounds like a user-friendly trend. Applied wisely, it helps users to see the core elements of the interface and makes user journey intuitive and purposeful. Moreover, minimalist interfaces usually look sophisticated and uncluttered bringing aesthetic satisfaction as one of the factors of desirability in UX.





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