Minimalist website design is an under-appreciated art. We've all heard the saying 'Less is more', but it's a principle that's often easier said than done. As progressions in technology open up new possibilities in site design, it becomes more and more difficult to resist adding some fancy flourishes.
Minimalist website design benefits users in the shape of faster loading times and better compatibility between screen sizes. What's more, a simple UI design (opens in new tab) is attuned to mobile browsing, without harming the desktop or user experience (opens in new tab).
The minimalist philosophy centres on the idea that you must design around the content. In web terms, the designer starts with rough content, then builds just enough interface for users to identify their goal and navigate to it easily.
The minimalist aesthetic is the visual representation of that philosophy. Minimalist sire design uses a lot of white – or at least uniformly coloured – space. But don't confuse uncluttered with boring. You must choose your layouts with care, otherwise your restricted palette of design elements will come across as dull instead of elegant.
Below, we've collected our favourite minimalist site designs to inspire you to do more by doing less.
Friends, designers and business partners Felix Vorbeck and Johannes Winkler also go by the moniker HalloBasis (opens in new tab). The Dusseldorf design studio takes pride in delivering projects that communicate well on behalf of its clients. This WordPress website (opens in new tab) acts as the studio's online portfolio site, and is a shining example of minimalist website design done differently.
The site makes a bold statement with just a few elements, thanks to its oversized aesthetic – which has the added bonus of aiding accessibility. In fact you might be forgiven for thinking the zoom feature of your chosen browser is maxed out, such is the 17.5vw font sizing for 770px min-width headlines. So typographically, it’s big, with the Messina Sans font suiting that chunkiness and ensuring readability. What’s really refreshing is that this applies to both navigational links and the custom GDPR prompts for accepting cookies. It’s also a cinch to toggle between German and English translations using the buttons on the main screen.
02. Jazz FM
This colourful site for a Bucharest-based radio station does a great job of letting the music speak for itself. At first glance Jazz FM Romania (opens in new tab) by Anagrama (opens in new tab), simply invites visitors to stream the live broadcast via a triangular play button that fills half the viewport. We get a logo and a Now Playing track display too, but it’s minimally striking thanks to the black on yellow scheme. This is only the header however and the single, long page structure continues with much more vibrancy to behold – although always with miminalist site design in mind.
Most notably, there is a raft of gorgeously ‘jazzy’ SVG illustrations that of course scale with stunning crispness no matter what size your screen is. Typography again goes big, thanks to a sparing economy of text, mostly as heading labels detailing where else Jazz FM can be enjoyed. Other features of interest include a clean and clear seven-day schedule, scrolling FM tuner tickertape and even a jazz festival guide.
03. Uber Sign Language
In line with its ethos of accessibility, Uber has created a website dedicated to teaching its customers basic sign language, so they can interact with hearing impaired drivers. Uber Sign Language (opens in new tab) is a masterclass in design with restraint. It shows users how to sign simple common phrases (yes, no, turn left and so on), or even their name, through simple, shortform videos. There is very little copy, or explanation; the content speaks for itself, proving you don't need clever words to capture an important brand message.
Evoulve (opens in new tab) is a company dedicated to turning emerging technologies into viable products. The site design – the work of design agency Fleava (opens in new tab) – has a mesmerising, futuristic feel. There are very few elements on screen: simple text annotations and very minimal navigation options, set against the backdrop of a slowly rotating globe and starry sky. However, each one has been crafted perfectly, with subtle CSS animations amping up the sense of magic and creating a mood of discovery.
Tinker (opens in new tab) is a watch brand with a simple concept: customers can choose the face size, strap colour and metal, in any combination. There are no unnecessary features or detailing. The UI for the company's site makes the concept clear; users can easily select their ideal combination from the limited options available.
06. Leen Heyne
Beside its jewellery, Leen Heyne (opens in new tab)'s monochrome logo and company name are the only significant visual elements on its homepage. The surrounding expanse of whitespace makes it a safe bet the user's eyes will be drawn to the products.
07. We Ain't Plastic
Contrast is another useful visual tactic for keeping minimalist designs interesting. German UX engineer Roland Lösslein's website We Ain't Plastic (opens in new tab) sets up a stark contrast in size between the central image and the text and icons above.
08. Nua Bikes
Nua Bikes (opens in new tab)' site is deceptively minimalist, because there are actually a lot of elements on the screen. However, by condensing the text and maximising the whitespace, the firm is able to draw attention to its product, the bike.
Amusing, if possibly inane, Sendamessage.to (opens in new tab) lets people customise messages to friends with a hand gesture. The barren black background adds power to the main image and the bold white letters of the text.
The website for triple-Michelin-starred Norwegian restaurant Maaemo (opens in new tab) uses minimalism to create a sense of class. The visual treatment is perfect for storytelling, as the site demonstrates with HD photos of dishes being created.
This black-and-white colour scheme and conformity of typography of this promotional site for sci-fi thriller Ex Machina keep the focus on the text – an interactive conversation with the film's star, the AI robot Ava (opens in new tab).
Icon font vendor Symbolset (opens in new tab) attracts attention to the interactive area in the middle of its site by minimising the competing elements and adding a brightly coloured, ever-changing background.
And remember: if you're creating a site with a team, make sure the process is seamless by keeping your design system files secure and easily accessible in top cloud storage.