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A minimalistic approach uses as few graphical elements as needed to transport the message to the user. No decoration or other distracting elements are added. The message is the protagonist. The graphical elements to focus on the message can be simple shapes, but the result is a rich experience.

A design that is just “simple” on the other hand does not give you a rich expirience – it gives you the feeling that something is missing.

If you do a minimalistic design and you get the feeling that something is missing, then you probably (1) didn’t focus enough on the message, (2) the message is too weak or (3) cannot be transported through minimalistic design:

  1. To much decoration or complicated layouts can blur your message. Get rid of graphic elements without a function.
  2. Weak messages are often the main problem. Minimalistic means reduced to the bones and a message which is blurry and not focused can’t work in this context. Talk again with your copywriter and client if you can get a message with a tighter focus.
  3. You cannot transport chaos with a minimalistic approach. Period.

As a conclusion we could say: A minimalistic design uses only graphic elements with function to maximise the message, simple design ignores the message to maximise simplicity.

Foto by Dirk Dallas

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2 Comments

Tom Sinclair
March 11, 2009

Great short article on something that gets misunderstood time and time again. I’ve seen a lot of websites that are going for the minimalist approach but it just looks like something is missing!

    derfrankie
    March 12, 2009

    I’ve seen two trends in webdesign lately – the heavy decorated and the minimalistic approach. Websites with minimalistic design as you said “forget” some of the good usability practices and the heavy decorated ones look nice but make the loading times too high and are not easy to use either.

    Websites must be usable – it’s implied by the word “intercative”

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