The philosophy of minimalist living is, for many, living with only 100 items that are absolutely essential for a decent life. Something similar applies to design as well. You need to retain only elements that are absolutely necessary for your audience. For example, images that are solely decorative can be gotten rid of. Copy that doesn’t make a point can be removed and shortened. However, you need to be careful to not eliminate essential navigation elements while minimizing them. A hamburger menu isn’t always the solution. Make key navigation elements discoverable. After all, you need the actual content on a page to encourage audiences to look beyond design and provide business.
The core of minimalist philosophy is the design created around the content. The goal of minimalism in commercial design is to make the message clear and outstanding by minimizing distraction and maximizing content focus. Only the functional and actionable elements must be kept in focus, with the rest filled by negative space and probably, small design elements. This simplifies the UX a lot. Further, go ahead and apply descending levels of focus in the order of importance of elements.
It isn’t just photos and illustrations, you can also fill between the spaces with geometric shapes and patterns. Unleash your creativity and go berserk with shapes if you have to. Take inspiration from geometric designs across categories. Remember that minimalism should encompass your composition as a whole, and shapes need to fit in with the other elements. Now, it’s time to put these elements together and use minimalist tips and tricks to paint a consistent visual.
In minimalist design, typography can be the most dramatic element. Bold and experimentative typography can bring immediate focus on the text you want to highlight, while also directing the reader towards the visual when placed strategically. You can even coordinate the color scheme of your text with that of the images and illustrations for coherence and pattern development. This is something that you can achieve even with simple typefaces. Color, placement, size, and the actual copy will make all the difference.
Photography and illustrations can be your next best friends in the minimalist journey after negative space. In fact, the whole point of negative space is to make the artwork shine. But remember that just placing a photo in a negative space frame isn’t the whole deal. Having a busy photo with too many elements is against the rules of minimalism and will disturb the energy of your page. The purpose of photos and illustrations on a minimalist page is to engage with and form an emotional connection with your audience.
A minimalist color scheme always uses a limited amount of colors. This does not mean that you must always use monochrome or black and white. You can instead play with bold colors and gradients to draw immediate attention. Using a rich color for your negative space alone can do the job at times. Minimalist color schemes are all about generating visual interest without extra design elements or even graphics.
Firstly, negative space doesn’t have to be white in color. You can find ample examples of negative space in black, pastels, and all sorts of colors. The core idea of negative space is to use it as a large frame for your content in focus. It is basically the blank space between elements. A larger distance between elements puts greater focus and emphasis. Many times, designers and clients (mostly, clients) feel that all the space on a page needs to be filled with something. Negative space gives your content breathing space and makes it come alive. It makes you embrace the blankness and use it as an element of class.
When you have too much copy on a page, it becomes difficult to apply minimalism. Sometimes, you cannot edit or eliminate a lot of words. Everything seems important and there is no scope for negative space, the trademark minimalist element. But when your copy is also minimal, for example, your website’s above the fold, minimalism with some contrast and focusing should be the way to go. These are just a few examples of minimalist use cases. With the amount of experimenting being done with minimalism these days, this trend is percolating into anything and everything. As a designer, it would be crucial for you to keep track of developments and keep innovating with minimalism.
This is a rage with fashion brands nowadays. All kinds of apparel and accessories brands are using high contrast visuals in order to hold audiences. In such cases, minimalism works the best as it puts the entire focus on contrast. With no distracting elements around, your focus will start and end with the contrasting visual.
Portfolio websites, promo pages, presentation decks are a few cases wherein content is minimal, and there is scope to leave out a lot of white space in order to display minimalism. Here, you need the content to shine more than the aesthetics or the presentation of your content. It makes the content easy to view and read, which is the prime goal of the product.