The psychology of minimalism

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 04/14/2017

Have you ever seen a website so chaotic that it made you bounce so fast and never look back?

We don't like clutter on our websites. We don't like when every inch of a website is covered in some mess. Not only is it overwhelming, but how are we supposed to navigate through something like that? Sounds like bad UI to me.

There are keywords I hear when talking with clients, "simple" or "clean." Why do so many people sway towards minimalism these days? Curious? Let's find out.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

-Leonardo Da Vinci

What is minimalist design

For those who aren't sure what I'm talking about, imagine a blank canvas. Next, add a text box or two, an image, and a call to action. You'll have a lot of white space, the design is stripped to only what's needed, it's simple.

This design isn't limited to only websites. We see minimalism applied to home decor, work spaces, I guess in really any part of our lives, really. Stripping anything down to it's bare necessity could be considered minimalism. 

We see this trend a lot with our favorite brands. Take a look at some logos and see home simple they have become, compared to their previous styles. The ones below for example! 

Clearing the path

I wrote an article on Journey Driven design. You can read it here. But it pretty much focuses on mapping out each persona's ideal buyer journey and building your site around these paths.

It seems like the minimalist design kind of cuts right through the noise and give the visitor exactly what they want, with out all that extra clutter.

The psychology

Let's think about this. Why are we more attracted to minimalist designs?

White space could be one reason. It's simply easier for our brains to process organized information. It helps us to zero in on what's important by eliminating distractions on the page.

There are three categories of people that will land on your site:

  • People who don't know who you are and they're there for some information on a topic
  • People who are on your site for solutions to a problem, but aren't ready to commit to one
  • People who are ready to buy and are on your site for that purpose 

So why would these people prefer a simple, minimalist site? Probably because they don't have to think when they land on one. What we're looking for is easy to find and the content is easy to sort through.

People have clear intentions when they land on your site and they just want a direct path to what they came for. We don't want to dig through a site for content, we want it to be easy. We want our answers right there in front of us. 

Benefits of minimalist designs

When the visitor knows exactly what to do and has no problem getting to the next touch point, you have solid UX. By cutting down to the bare minimum, the path is clear, it's direct, and it's appealing. So your call to action will definitely be clear stand out.

Minimalist designs are great for focusing on your content. Since there's nothing in the way of your visitor and your content, you know that if they don't convert, the emphasis put on your content will show that the issue could lie there. Plus, since you have less content, on your page, it will probably load faster and your designer will have an esier time creating mobile and tablet versions.

Your text will be legible. When working with white space, your designer will optimize your typography and style to contrast well with the background. This will only further better your UX.

To conclude:

Minimalist designs provide a way to showcase our content in a clean and simple way. This helps us cut some of the noise out of our designs and it helps our visitors easily find their way through the site. 

Check out some of our related articles: 

How journey driven design could lead to a more successful site

Choosing colors for your website