The Minimalist Phase

Posted By: Sarah Mattes
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Photo courtesy of Gareth Saunders via Flickr

In a world where new technology is popping up over night, how can we keep all the “old” technology up to date and be just as inspiring as the next best thing?

Today’s college campuses are swarming with new design classes, new media formats, more advanced software; all these new elements concerned with the topic of design and how design affects the way we view the world around us. But if you take a minute and scan a couple websites throughout the internet, you will see some striking similarities between different sites.

In Jason Abbruzzese’s article on Mashable.com, he describes just how minimalistic our web design is becoming. He explains how major publications are using the same basic model to format and structure their websites. Time and NBC News are the examples Abbruzzese gives to prove his point. The main focus is on three design elements: divided sections, large media, and clean line and colors.

If you take a look at both websites we will see these three elements loud and clear.

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Yes the minor design elements are different, but both websites have the same features: big pictures or videos to draw you into a story, a separate column for the most up-to-date news, and a very clean and uncluttered look. Take a minute and explore some other websites to see how they follow this exact pattern perfectly.

One of the reasons Abbruzzese’s article states is that web design is a form of art and just like any other art, it follows a trend. The current trend is minimalistic design and a “responsive” format. A responsive format means websites are able to adapt and change their look for the wide range of devices that we have; there are mobile sites and tablet sites, wider versions for larger screens, designers have  to consider all of this when creating a site.

Responsive design is something, I think, will never go away, it will continue to change and grow as technology progresses. But is the flat and minimalistic phase here to stay? Will designers in the next few years grow tired of the same old look and bring back the gradients, the shadows, and the fun elements of design?

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11 responses to “The Minimalist Phase

  1. This is an interesting topic. I’m hoping, at this point, that minimalist designs are here to say, solely for my sanity. I love going to sites that are clear and organized, making it easy for me to navigate from page to page, story to story. If there is too much going on, I get lost and usually end up in a place where I don’t want to be. I think it is important for news sites to maintain an easily readable page, and I think this concept of minimalism is one that is here to stay.

  2. When it comes to news websites, I think it is really important to have a minimalistic and straight-to-the-point design layout. Everybody visits these sites, specifically my 93 year old Grandfather. If NBC news’ website was cluttered and difficult, then he would never be able to navigate it. So, simple design layouts are important for news sites because they are attending to every demographic out there. While I do appreciate easy navigational websites, I do get slightly bored at times when websites are so bland. Not these two specifically, but I always find myself more interested and drawn to websites with more fun stuff going on. Nothing tacky, or confusing, but the websites with fun buttons that lead you around. Or websites with color and unique fonts. I think there is a place for simplistic layouts, but there are also places for the opposite.

    • I completely agree with you! For the more serious sites such as Time and NBC minimalist is the way to go. But for fun sites, I always prefer to see some life on the page. I am never really interested in the website if it’s super bland.

  3. I think design is a constantly changing thing that, for now, is revolving around simplicity and conciseness. For news stories, this is useful for getting content and news straight to the viewer without much hassle. While I personally like the style and think that for news platforms its really effective, I don’t think there’s ever any guarantee that a certain stye will stay. As with fashion, music, advertising, etc., design will always be subject to the trends of the times.

    • Very true, web design is just like any other form of art. It may be around for a year or could be out within a month!

  4. Not going to lie, I really like minimalist art. Some of my favorite posters or prints are usually a silhouette of a character in a book or movie.

    For the majority of websites, I think minimalist designs are really important. If a website looks cluttered or chaotic, I’m far less likely to want to access it.

  5. I had the same thought as you when I was reading your post: responsiveness is here to stay. It solves the conundrum of a multitude of screen sizes and resolutions. Minimalist design solves a problem too as it removes noise and makes website navigation easier on users. There’s a better sense of hierarchy with the minimalist designs, but I have to believe it’ll grow old like any trend. I think the more interesting trend in web design is the growing use of HTML5. The new(ish) markup language is meant to seamlessly integrate multimedia elements and app interfaces, so possibilities are pretty much endless. As media professionals this is something to keep on our radars because of the demand for multimedia. Plus when well-utilized, the results are visually stunning!

    Here are some cool examples: http://www.awwwards.com/websites/html5/

  6. I think more minimalistic design is part of the increasingly popular concept of “modernity.” We want design to be simple without being confusing, attractive but not boring, informative but not cluttered or bland. I agree with Claudia in that the ability to navigate a website should be the most important thing you think of in design, but you also want it to be visually appealing. I think minimalist design is here to stay for a while, but it also depends on the context and the message you’re trying to convey. Responsive formats, however, are what I consider a consequence of the overwhelming presence of technology in society and the need to reach people on different devices since not everyone is going to pull up a website on their computer. If you have a device that lets you use the internet, not being accessible to these users can be detrimental to a website’s popularity.

  7. Like many of the previous comments have mentioned, I do like the clear-cut lines and organization of news websites. I get easily frustrated when I go to a news website and the stories are strewn haphazardly on the screen.
    I do think this design is subject to change. For all we know, there might be some crazy new technology that comes out in 5-10 years that makes tablets completely obsolete. Designs will always change because because technology is always changing.

    Also, I’m not that familiar with design, but HTML5 looks super cool!

  8. I think that having a minimalistic design is important in news sites because if there is a lot going on, the reader is going to get overwhelmed and not know what to read. If the best news source out there had a cluttered page, I would be more likely to go to a page that had less going on to get the information. Minimalistic design draws readers in even though some may say it is boring. Honestly, you are there for news, not for design.

  9. I think clean, organized websites are the best way to go. It’s easier to navigate and switch to a mobile format. Since you want you the mobile version of your site to resemble the way it looks on the computer, it’s easier to stick with simpler designs that transfer easily. I agree that HTML5 looks cool and I’m guessing over the next few decades we’ll see some shifts in design because of changing technology and taste.

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