By Zach Watson
As technology arcs toward sophisticated innovation, minimalism is on the rise. Designers are embracing the sleek over the spartan in hopes of developing experiences that offer better usability while maintaining a low profile.
Creating an interface that’s intuitive requires two steps: First, determining the most necessary functionalities for each screen, and then guiding users to these specific functions.
Seamless designs not only make user navigation easier, they also put people at ease — ultimately keeping them active on a website, app, or other digital platform and more likely to become repeat users and visitors.
Apple was one of the forebears of minimalism in digital design, and to this day, they remain one of the best practitioners of the art:
There’s an obvious relationship between Apple’s skill in minimalist design, the user experience their customers enjoy, and the runaway success of the company.
In contrast, overly intricate designs tend to mire users in the decision-making process.
If left pondering “what next?” for too long, users will become confused and frustrated. They’ll exit the site or app entirely in search of easier answers.
This concept behind Hicks Law, which states the more choices a person is presented with, the longer it will take them to reach a decision. Too many options require users to invest precious mental energy interpreting how to use an app, bogging them down in work they will often reject.
UX designers would do well to reference Hicks Law in their UX design process and attempt to create digital interfaces that are simple but not empty, stylish but not convoluted.
Reducing how many functions are offered in each part of a website, app, or platform can optimize your users’ approach to decision making. Less stimuli supports a faster decision-making process and creates a focuses, more comfortable user experience.
Applied wisely, a minimalistic design practice helps users see the core elements of the interface. The user’s path then becomes intuitive and powerfully purposeful. What’s more, minimal interfaces tend to be more aesthetically pleasing as sophisticated and uncluttered digital spaces.
Google’s homescreen in the Chrome browser provides a superb example of minimalist design in service of the user experience:
Still, minimalism in experience design can be tricky to get right, forcing economy into the ethics of even the most technically skilled designers. In other words, designers must say and do more with less.
Designing for minimalism
Minimalism in design means that ideally, every element presented on screen is deliberate and useful. When every button, icon, and image serves a clear purpose, the experience is distilled down to focus on the absolute essentials.
Severity can go one of two ways, however: sleek and streamlined, or primitive and sparse.
Ensuring that the space is free of generic motifs and stock photos — and only including images when they are absolutely necessary for communicating a clear message — is an easily attainable path to a highly usable minimal design.
Likewise, striking excessive text from the page ensures …read more
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