I recently read an article titled “What’s Next in Web Design.” The conclusion of the article states:
“Better interaction design, less graphic design. Better user experience, less debates about taste. Faster technology, more reliable design standards.”
What I find interesting is I’ve been seeing the opposite in web trends. With the introduction of more web friendly fonts and more flexibility in development, web design is starting to look more and more artistic and refined. Designers are able to explore their artistic roots with illustration, sketching, painting, etc.
When you look at a site that is so beautifully designed, it just makes you feel good. It’s the intangibles that can make a difference. Things that click tracking, heatmaps, and analytics can’t measure. I also find it interesting that, yes, of course the author is arguing the benefits of minimalist web design. Look at their site. Almost as minimalistic as it gets.
Minimalist design style has its place in web design, but it is far from the end-all for web design. Sites like Apple have been so successful because:
1. Their web design matches their brand style
2. They are able to display big, beautiful photography and not every company can afford that level of photography.
3. The amount of information they have packed into their website demands a simplistic design style in order not to overwhelm their audience.
While I agree that a design that is too cluttered and flowery can be extremely frustrating when I am looking for something specific, but why must it be one or the other? That is the challenge of web design: creating a web experience. Combining form and function so they work together seamlessly.
Would you hire an architect to design a building that meets the needs of keeping you warm and a roof over your head but is a plain box? No. You hire an architect to create something beautiful but still functions as a well structured building.
Bottom line, the minimalist approach works, but not for everyone, and not as often as many people think. Personally, I am seeing more creativity and interesting visuals than something flat and boring but usable. Pairing usability and beauty is a web designer’s job. So rather than casting off graphic design as unnecessary, I foresee it becoming more and more crucial.