Following web design trends can be problematic – what’s all the rage this year might look dated and passé next year. And when you’re dropping a good chunk of change on a new website design, you want something that will stay fresh for a while.
Although “clean” website design is being touted as a trend this year, it has a classic, timelessness that won’t soon go out of style. Think of it this way: A simple, well-designed website is like a little black dress or a tailored black suit; it will always look classy and cool.
Top web designers understand this and are creating increasingly minimalist designs that result in a streamlined, effortless user experience that translates across multiple devices.
The Aesthetic Benefits
Generally, most people prefer to look at clean, organized spaces over cluttered ones. This is true in real life and on the web. Clean spaces are not only more aesthetically pleasing, but they indicate certain qualities of their owners.
Imagine choosing between two possible employees for a big project – would you choose the one with the disorderly desk covered in a random array of clutter or the owner of the pristine workspace with everything in its place? It’s a no brainer – you’d be drawn to the one that indicates an organized, detail-oriented person.
So it goes with your website. Potential customers and clients will unconsciously begin to designate positive qualities to your business when they see an easily-navigable site with clean lines. As your website is often the first chance you have to make an impression, it’s key to implement a design that symbolizes the strong qualities of your company.
In more applied terms, a minimalist website loads much more quickly than a site that is overwhelmed with design elements, images, animations and links. We know that 40% of internet users will leave a page that doesn’t load within 3 seconds, so it’s absolutely paramount for web designer companies to build fast-loading sites, or risk losing potential customers.
Websites with simple designs also give the business behind them more of a voice. When you have fewer design elements, you can more easily use design in a way that creates a hierarchy of importance for various links and information. Is your main priority for visitors to join your e-mail list or call your business? In a clean design, you can make these elements sing so they aren’t competing with a bunch of secondary or tertiary links.
For example, your blog is definitely an important part of your site that should be easily accessible, but does the link need to be above the fold on the homepage? Probably not. Let the page’s design communicate your priorities to your visitors so that it’s easy for them to do just what you want them to.
What Makes a Design Clean?
Some web designer companies will simply ask you what you think should go on your website and then load it all in, without question. Top web designers, however, will probably edit the hell out of your “requirements” for the homepage.
That’s a good thing – they’re not just thinking about pleasing you. They’re looking into the future and imagining the experience of your users, so that the site will create new customers for you – that’s the whole point, isn’t it? And they know that today’s internet users are drawn more toward simple, elegant sites.
While “clean design” or “minimal design” may seem just like euphemisms for “boring,” they are anything but boring. The best examples are visually striking and very pleasing to the eye.
While there are a few basic design principles of this style, they don’t limit creativity at all. Using these guidelines doesn’t have to result in a cookie-cutter website or one that resembles any other clean sites. Use these fundamental recommendations to guide you, but make them your own.
• Bold Images
Bold, visually impactful images are the calling card of clean websites. A beautiful picture that includes people can make even the driest business come across as dynamic, friendly and modern. Just because you sell cardboard boxes doesn’t mean your homepage has to feature flat, boring pictures of boxes.
Your homepage, especially, does not have to be literal. Instead of focusing on images that directly show what you do, pick ones that more subtly communicate the character of your company. Generally, your website visitors already know what you do, so the job of the image is not to illustrate your work, but to grab users’ attention and make a positive, lasting impression.
Never underestimate the power of typography. The style of letters you choose communicates a great deal about your company. Consider the different impressions you’d get from a web page written in Times New Roman versus one in Comic Sans. We recommend that you choose something simple, but stylish. It should be somewhat unique, but not so much so that it distracts from your message. You don’t want someone thinking more about the font than what you’re saying.
The entire site shouldn’t have any more than two fonts, at the most. If, however, you want to even stick with just one, you can vary the appearance by using color, size and style. Don’t be afraid of using oversized typography for important text – it makes a big statement, visually and literally.
• Minimal Header
The header of a website is the bar along the top that features links to other pages on the website. You may have a very robust site with several internal pages, but keep the header as uncluttered as possible. It can be very overwhelming to have too many link in such a prominent place on your homepage.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you don’t have any more than 7 links in your header. You likely have more than 7 internal pages, however. You can link to the rest of them on the footer (a bar along the bottom of the page) or by having a couple of links in the header as drop-down menus. Whichever method you choose, just make sure that your header features links to the pages that you most want users visiting.
This may be hard to stomach, but we’re here to kill your dreams of a rainbow website bursting with color. A lot of people think users want to be dazzled be a wide color spectrum, but that’s simply untrue. Having several bold colors is distracting and steals the spotlight form the parts of your site that you absolutely need people to notice. Plus, a multi-colored site comes across as amateurish and immature.
Clean design is all about accent color. It’s best to go with a pallet of neutrals with one or two accent colors thrown in for visual interest. Our site is a perfect illustration of this idea – there are a few shades of gray with pops of orange. This kind of color combination creates a restrained, modern and elegant effect that nearly any user would enjoy.
Just because the design is simple doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be visually stimulating. You can make the most of a few colors by varying a page’s appearance with texture. There are an almost limitless variety of subtle textures you could use – ones that look like fabric, wood, paper or even a chalk board. Just be sure not to go overboard with these textured backgrounds. At every turn, and with every design element, ask yourself, “Is this distracting?”
• Hand-Drawn Elements
A great way to add a bit of whimsy and personality to a minimalist website is with a few hand-drawn elements. Scroll down to the bottom of our web design page for an example. These homespun details grab a lot of attention on sites that are otherwise aesthetically conservative, so use them sparingly and only for text or links that you really want to draw attention to.
It might seem like creating these clean designs is easy, but don’t let the word “simple” fool you. Because there are far fewer design elements in this style, each one must be impeccable. Also, the proportions and spacing takes on a greater importance, as the page more closely resembles a piece of art than a menu.
The best web designer companies are creating sites that make a huge impact by not doing too much. In modern web design, less is more…much, much more.