The science and practice of web design goes far beyond building visually appealing websites. It’s more about offering an easy and enjoyable experience to the users. Above all, a good website design means ensuring that the visitors understand how the website works, navigate it smoothly and encounter no difficulties in finding exactly what they’re looking for.
In other words, this means that web design today is mostly about user experience, and for websites that sell products online, all visitors are (potential) customers, so providing a flawless buying experience should be of utmost importance for web designers.
In this context, a minimalist approach to designing your site can be hugely beneficial. There are multiple advantages of making your website simple, neat and straightforward instead of swamping it with unnecessary elements that will overwhelm the users.
In essence, building a minimalist website means that you keep things as simple as possible, both visually and functionally. More particularly, it includes a limited color palette, well-spaced elements, smart use of white space, clear hierarchy, proper alignment, straightforward navigation, as well as consistency of all these components.
Most importantly, it means avoiding all redundant elements. Every single design feature needs to serve a purpose or convey a message. Otherwise it’s useless and is considered a distraction and a time-waster. This highly-focused approach is in accordance with what users want today and with the common worldview that pushes our civilization forward. Minimalist design is the design of today and tomorrow, and here are a few reasons why you should consider making it a part of your customer experience strategy.
First of all, omitting all the superfluous details helps the content of the website to truly stand out. With no distractions, visitors will have no trouble focusing on what’s important – products, descriptions, prices or content of your blog posts. Minimalist design makes content easy to consume, ensures that the users recognize the key components of the page and helps direct their attention towards these components.
There’s a limit to the number of different things people can focus on at a given time. Famous research conducted by George A. Miller in the 50s proved that our working memory can normally store between 5 and 9 elements. This means that flooding the users with numerous different sensations can effectively distract them from what actually matters, and this is obviously bad for your conversions and sales.
This is something to have in mind when dealing with the appearance of your website. Getting users’ attention online is extremely difficult and once you get it, you don’t want it to be disrupted by a flashy animation or uselessly flamboyant font. Even opt-in, contact and checkout forms should be kept simple – eliminating just one form field can increase your conversions by as much as 50%.
Take a look at this:
Yes this is a real website!
When asked about what’s the most important factor in a website design, an overwhelming majority of consumers answered that it should be easy to find what they are looking for on the website. For 76% of them, this is the top priority.
There’s no better way to achieve this than by a clean, flat, minimal design that concentrates on what’s practical and useful. With the minimalist approach, you reduce the chance to confuse or mislead your customers. The first concern when laying out the design and structure of the website should be to make the life of the users easier, not to demonstrate the artistic competence of the designer.
Simplicity of structure and navigation can provide users with a natural and intuitive way to move around your website. Also, minimalist design makes it easier for people to scan the page as there’s nothing to interfere with the content and divert the users’ attention. This is very important since almost 80% of people tend to scan written content rather than reading it word-by-word.
As it was mentioned, the visual appeal of your website itself is not the most important aspect of its design, but it’s still far from irrelevant. It can tell a thing or two about your brand and it does contribute to providing an enjoyable experience for your customers.
In this respect, minimalist design also does a great job. This approach can build trust and confidence in your company. The very fact that you choose not to distract your visitors with flashy looks and focus on content, products and business instead demonstrates a professional approach. It suggests that you’re putting essence before form.
In fact, putting too much effort into unnecessary design elements and details can have an undesirable effect. Your website could end up radiating a cheap salesy vibe that you definitely want to avoid.
The performance of your website is surely among the most important UX factors out there. Just a couple of extra seconds can make all the efforts you’ve put in your website and even your business come to nothing.
It’s already become a well-known fact that almost half of the users are not ready to wait for more than 2 seconds for a web page to load. In addition, bad performance will directly hurt your sales. It won’t take much until an average customer loses patience and decides to give up on your products. A 1-second delay may decrease your conversion rate by 7 percent, and if you make your visitors wait for 6 additional seconds, that could literally cut your conversions in half.
Very often, what causes your website to slow down is simply the fact that it’s too “heavy”. This means that there are either too many files that need to be loaded or that they are too large. These issues can be resolved in numerous different ways – for instance by cleaning the code, compressing the files or resizing the images. But sometimes none of these will do the trick and the only way to make your website lighter may be removing unnecessary design elements.
Going for a minimalist design reduces the chance of having to encounter this problem. Obviously, it’s no guarantee that your website will display flawless performance, as speed depends on a number of factors. However, a minimalist design naturally means avoiding redundant design tricks and features that normally slow your website down. A fast website is absolutely essential for quality customer experience.
All in all, the main virtue of minimalist websites is that they leave no room for elements that don’t serve a purpose, or features that are not functionally justified. In this respect, they are appealing because they perfectly exemplify the way the modern world works, and that’s where their modern, elegant and even futuristic appeal comes from. And most importantly, minimalist design is perfect for all those who actually wish to put customers and their needs first. In this case, less definitely is more.
Daniel Bishop started off as a content consultant for small SEO and web design companies, and now works as a junior editor for ReallySimpleSystems. Always searching for new opportunities, he loves sharing ideas with other professionals in the digital community.