Like any creative medium, web design passes through fashionable design trends that make their mark before slowly fading back into obscurity. However, there’s one design trend (much like a little black dress or wayfarer sunglasses) that never goes out of style: minimalism.
Rather than distract users by bombarding them with flashy animations and eye-catching designs, a minimalist approach puts the focus back on the content itself by boiling a website down to its essential elements.
In this piece, we’ll briefly look at why minimalism is so popular, then break down three minimalist design trends used by web designers in 2016.
The Endurance of Minimalism in Design
Within the realm of web design, minimalism is the stripping away of every element that isn’t essential to the user’s experience. It places focus on function rather than flashy graphics, and many people find the result to be quite beautiful.
You have to look at prior design practices to understand how the minimalist mindset has developed.
In the past, web designers used to place lots of content above the fold. This was a carryover from printed mediums where newspaper editors would design their front page layouts to showcase prominent headlines on newsstands. For a long time, the overarching web design theory was that readers will be less likely to interact with anything they have to scroll to view. As a result, in order to maximize conversions, websites were jam-packed above the fold.
However, as that myth has been debunked and responsive devices have necessitated scrolling in order to view content, a minimalist approach to web design has developed, emphasizing the need to give content plenty of space to breathe.
We believe minimalism in web design is here to stay. Unlike some other design trends, it’s evergreen, doesn’t command attention, and can look just as gorgeous as its busier counterparts.
In short, we love minimalism and believe that good design should be invisible.
3 Minimalist Website Design Trends for 2016
While there are lots of minimalist design trends we could have included, below are three that we feel are the most impactful in 2016.
1. Asymmetrical Grid Design
Websites have long been designed in a grid format, and modern designs often use a template such as the 960 Grid System. While there’s nothing wrong with a uniform layout, some web designers have gotten creative with grids, and websites with asymmetrical and staggered grids are becoming more commonplace.
Asymmetrical grids are enjoying burgeoning popularity, giving designers the opportunity to break from the rigidity of a uniform layout and offer some variety. Some websites have taken things even further, combining non-uniform grids with other design trends to offer something totally unique.
Our own Shutterbox theme incorporates asymmetrical grids and is ideal for creating a unique portfolio:
2. Overlapping Text
This technique is simple to produce when using a printed medium but has been difficult for web designers to achieve without complex code. However, as web standards have developed and web browsers have adapted, the design technique has become more commonplace.
Overlapping text has a similar appeal as asymmetrical design – it’s used to help content break from the rigid confines of a grid and create a more appealing layout. In addition, marrying images and text by overlapping them can provide the opportunity to create a complete, homogeneous message and visual experience.
To achieve this technique on your own website, you can use a page builder plugin such as Elementor:
We’ve already covered how much we love page builder plugins, and the ability to incorporate minimalist design elements such as this is one reason why. Furthermore, Elementor can be used to create almost any page layout you imagine – though we would prefer you keep it minimal!
3. Fixed Content Scrolling
Finally, we have fixed content scrolling. While it sounds technical (and under the hood, it’s definitely not simple), this is just a fancy term for content that sticks to the screen as you scroll. While it can be used for simple applications (think sidebar social sharing buttons), some designers have combined it with minimalism to produce some stunning results. For example, check out Nizo for iPhone’s website:
This technique is currently very popular, and not only because of its use with social sharing buttons. Designers have the opportunity to fix prominent content to the screen, or, much like overlapping text, marry up text and images as users navigate the page.
Our Photolog theme employs this technique on featured images, and we’re rather proud of how it looks – it’s unlike any other WordPress theme available. Check it out.
While other design fads have outstayed their welcome, minimalism continues to be called upon when a focus on content is key for design. It’s an evergreen technique that doesn’t lose its charm, and can look just as gorgeous as sites with flashy graphics and effects.
While other visual creative mediums have used minimalism for a long time, in 2016 web designers have embraced the technique in a number of ways:
- Asymmetrical grid design.
- Overlapping text.
- Fixed content scrolling.
What other minimalist website design trends are you a fan of? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: pineapplesupplyco.
One thought on “Minimalist Web Design Trends”
I often tell my team to keep sites simple yet aesthetically appealing — and to not cram a page with too much information as this gives the user a bad viewing experience.