When it comes to designing your site, these days, less is more. It used to be important for a website design to provide realistic visual cues and connections to help users with navigation. But today’s users are either from a generation that grew up on computers or have through the years become accustomed to web design language. Therefore, the need for such realism is not necessary and could actually be a detriment.
This article will explain a bit about the differences between Web 2.0 or skeuomorphic design and the more simplistic, flat design which is en vogue these days. We will also offer some tips on how to use simple designs to create a powerful message with your website.
Shadows, bubbles and shiny finishes were all the rage a few years back. This was known as the era of Web 2.0, when the fashion, popularized by i-Phone, was to use visual cues such as 3-D images and shiny buttons with drop-shadows to help users understand how to interact with applications and navigate their way through the relatively new world of the Internet.
This kind of design is referred to as skeuomorphism, a style where an object is designed to resemble real life. Oftentimes, these digital designs mimic real materials such as wood, leather or plastic.
The following designs are quintessentially skeuomorphic. They are classically ornate and give the look, feel and texture of the real world, and the artwork itself is appealing and beautiful to behold.
Moving from Skeuomorphism to Flat Design
Today’s Internet users are familiar with how applications and websites are structured, so this sort of realistic design is phasing out and being replaced by more minimalist, flat designs. No longer are purely aesthetic accentslike shadows or complicated shapes being added;rather the reliance is on visual clarity and communication.
This type of design us known as flat design and it incorporates simple elements and shapes, often combined with bright colors.
Flat interfaces are easy for today’s Internet surfers to understand and interact with. This is great news for do-it-yourself website designers who might lack the technology and tools such asPhotoshop to create 3-D graphics or complicated, layered designs. With simple website builders like Wix.com, anyone can easily create professional, modern sites without needing a graphic designer.
Note the differences in these two images of calculators. The design on the right is skeuomorphic, while the one on the left is flat design.
Minimalism and Messaging: How to get your message across simply
While minimalism is definitely a hot trend in the web-design world, creating a simple site that looks good and works well is not always easy. Conveying your message with very few images and extra items can be a real challenge. Each page element should be carefully thought out so that message is conveyed as simply and clearly as possible.
Here’s one example from Wix. The designer has conveyed his or her message with utter simplicity, but in a way that builds curiosity and compels the visitor to continue browsing beyond the homepage. See here to see more website templates created by Wix for designers.
This simple design invites the visitor in with a simple, compelling message and no frills approach.
When creating your own website, there are some tips to keep in mind to help you keep your design simple, while attracting visitors and encouraging them to stick around and peruse your site.
Tips to creating minimalistic website designs with maximum impact:
Leave White Space. White space refers to open space in the design and is not necessarily white; it can be any color. Leaving ample white space between objects creates the illusion of a larger design and emphasizes each of the elements on your page. This can make your content look clearer and easier for your users to digest.
Grab the Viewer’s Attention! You can do this by adding in a splash of bright color on a black-and-white design or creating a central focal point on the screen. These techniques will be sure to get the user’s attention. A strong color in and of itself can become the focal point. Give your website design appeal by making just one important feature, image or text piece the focal point.
The bright green attracts the viewer’s attention immediately.
The splash of turquoise in the center brings the viewer’s attention immediately to this focal point on the screen. You can also see the designer’s use of white space in this design.
- Concentrate On Typography. Use simple, easy-to-read fonts in minimalist designs. Try working with one sans seriffont in the header and a second sans serif font for the body text. To ensure you keep it simple and consistent, and to avoid distracting your site visitors, avoid using more than two or three fonts. Also, choose fonts which match the overall design and the message you are trying to get across. You can use bolded weights toemphasize certain words or you can vary the size of fonts. Headers on top should be the largest, most easy-to-read fonts, with the size slowly decreasing as the reader moves down the page.
- Clearly Define a Color Scheme.If you have an image or a logo, pick a dominant color in them to accentuate in your color scheme. Stick to just a few colors, and choose a main color or color scheme which complements this dominant color. Don’t use too many different colors and keep your color scheme consistent throughout the entire site. The body font color should always have a strong contrast with the background so it is easy to read.
- Use Clean Imagery. Use well thought out, professional graphics that reflect your business and your branding. In flat design, these images can be simple outlines or have only one or two colors.
This Wix website uses simple, flat images and the color scheme has only three colors.
- If you are using photography, invest in a photographer who can capture your product or business well. Use simple, contrasting backgrounds to help make your products pop off the page.
- Don’t settle for snapshots and try to avoid using easy-to-spot stock photography. Attractive photography is the foundation of an appealing site, and amateur photos can mar even the most professional-looking site.
- Make Use Of Alignment. Alignmentis crucial when you are organizing and arranging your design. If your website has elements that are off center or not aligned, this will reflect poorly on your professionalism.
- Furthermore, good alignment and organization of page elements will help you create a sleek, easy-to-read website, allowing your users to absorb key information more easily.
- Balanced alignment can be achieved effectively with the use of grid layouts. On Wix.com, you can view the exact placement of each object, to the pixel, thus allowing a way to check that every object is in exact alignment.
Wix’s editor allows you to track the exact alignment of any object on the webpage. You can choose the pixel where you want to place each object along the x and y axis.
If you follow these steps to minimalistic design you can show that your business is in tune with the most modern trends in web design. With modern, minimalistic design, you’ll simply stand out in no time.