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Minimalism In Interface Design

Modern minimalism and its presence in the field of UI Design.

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Before the concept of minimalism made its debut in the realm of art and design, it was a topic that teachers of various religions preached. Notions similar to minimalism exist in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. All the preachings can be boiled down to the practice of focusing on areas where people can incorporate “Less is More” into their lifestyles. They speak of a simple life–one with minimal or strictly necessary possessions, shunning materialistic desires. It moves the spotlight to “intentional” living–reflecting on one’s core beliefs and values to imbibe them into daily life. Minimalism propels the idea of the deliberate promotion of things that add the most value to our lives, rejecting entities that distract and take away the mind’s focus and control.
The modern minimalist design reflects the teachings of Zen Buddhism–a serene, simple, and uncluttered way of living with a strong emphasis on balance, mindfulness, and simplicity.

Art and Design: Starting the Minimalist Movement

The inception of minimalist design began in the 1800s when Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau introduced simple living in America through the book Walden. In the 1920s, the style was presented by the Bauhaus School’s ideal of creating a balance between beauty with utility. They offered an alternative to uninspiring manufactured products by presenting the role that art could play.
However, the minimalist movement gained popularity in the 1960s, when artists wanted to dial back their work, in contrast to the decadence of the previous decade. Amongst others, artists like Frank Stella, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Robert Morris became exemplary innovators. Initially, minimalism earned its name in the visual arts, but it soon expanded to other areas such as architecture, music, and literature. It was (and is) characterized by the use of simple, geometric shapes and a focus on basic elements such as color, line, and form. It strips away the non-essential elements to create works that are reduced to their most basic form.
Frank Stella, The Marriage of Reason and Squalo
Minimalism as a concept eventually found its name in user interface design with simplicity, functionality, and usability in the limelight.

The Elements of Good Minimalist UI Design

Minimalism in UI puts quintessential elements at the forefront; keeping things simple and clean and improving the weightage of usability. It emphasizes functionality and ease of use. To incorporate minimalism in digital product and interface design, designers must be mindful of the information they place in front of a user’s eyes. The components must be tailored to perform a desired action while eliminating superfluous fluff. The advantage of this approach to design is easy navigation which in turn leads to better UX.
Minimalism is more than an aesthetic. There are key features that distinguish uninspired design from minimalist design:

Simplicity and Clarity

The design must be crystal clear about its use and purpose. A user must gain clear insight into the function of a particular component. Formal visual elements convey this information in the best possible way.
  • Typography: The usage of understated fonts helps move the spotlight on the content being displayed.
  • Color: A strong cohesive appeal can be created with a palette limited to three colors.
  • Layout: Layout is a solid tool to establish visual hierarchy and create an easy navigation system. A clean layout, with neatly aligned content in an organized grid strategy, is easy on the eye
  • Pictures: Due to the visual simplicity of minimalist design, pictures that are consistent in style and tone have an impact–they speak volumes as the users’ attention is naturally drawn.

Functionality and Flexibility

The design should be functional and easy to use, focusing on user needs and tasks. Users prefer digital screens that load quickly. Using too many graphics, animations, or videos, and complex effects can slow performance. A blend of minimal and useful effects to create a clear sense of usability guides the user on how they can operate an app/design.
Users have more than one go-to device. They have different preferences on how they view an application; it can be across multiple devices i.e. a phone, a laptop, or a tablet. While functionality is of the essence, design should be flexible and adaptable, able to perform equally across different devices and screen sizes.


The design should be consistent in its use of elements and layout, creating a sense of familiarity and homogeneity for users. By creating a sense of cohesive familiarity, users have greater brand recall value. Additionally, it aids customers to breeze through the application and promotes more usage time. Uniformity in color schemes, typography, picture styles, tones, and layout reinforces consistency throughout the design.

Negative Space

Utilization of negative space to create a sense of visual hierarchy aids in giving the user context. The proper utilization of negative space (also known as white space) helps consume the content better and faster. It paves the way to improve UX by providing the user with palatable pieces of information and playing up the significant factors.

Is Minimalist Design the Way to Go?

While minimalistic styles have dominated the design world for a long time, there is a considerable population that leans towards the maximalist design approach. Apart from being a personal taste, minimalism’s concept of “Less is More” may not always hold true. Maximalism has its own set of benefits and has a unique appeal. In the essence of its approach, it is the stark opposite of minimalism. It employs excess and opulence. It unleashes a storm of creativity–characterized by the use of bold colors, patterns, textures, and a variety of shapes and forms. When done correctly, maximalism offers unique UI/UX design.

Minimalism isn’t the all-healing potion to transform a design. Depending on the context of the product, the target audience, and the goals of the design, an approach of Minimalism or Maximalism can be sought. To know more about the UI/UX approach your brand needs, contact us at

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