When I create simple website designs for my clients, I like to incorporate elements from Japanese minimalism. I was born and raised in Japan and was very much influenced by Japanese minimalism. I design simple and live simple. Even though I have been living in the United States for almost 19 years, simple authenticity is always in me. Kanso is a Japanese term that refers to the elimination of clutter. This is a concept that comes to play in every project I undertake.
Fortunately, many successful companies like Apple also appreciate simple design and redesigned their logo and brand identity to reflect that.
Many people don’t realize that Apple’s original logo was quite complicated. In 1976, the logo was an illustration of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree when an apple falls on his head. Steve Jobs quickly eliminated that logo in favor of a rainbow filled apple. This was Apple’s logo until 1998 when the monochrome version was introduced. There have been slight variations from a glass look to a metallic look, but the simple version has remained and is one of the most widely recognized logos around the world.
Studies have consistently shown that simple website designs perform much better than cluttered sites.
Here are 9 advantages to using a minimalist approach.
1 Simple websites are visually appealing.
Google published a study in 2012 comparing visitor reactions to complex websites versus a website with a simple design. The results showed that visitors consistently rated the complex websites as less appealing than those with a simple website design. Google also discovered that visitors to the minimalist websites felt they could trust the site more. People associated complex sites (with more images, fonts, and different colors) with fraudulent or “spammy” sites.
2 Simple websites load faster.
Studies show that visitors to a website will only wait for 3 seconds. If the website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, they will move on. Google also finds the load time to be an important factor in searches. They take load time into account for your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings. What slows down the loading time for a website? Sites with a lot of images, gifs, and videos – in other words, clutter. Keeping your website clean and simple is not only visually appealing; it’s also fast.
3 Minimalist designs are easy to navigate.
Visitors to your site are usually there to find some information. Typically, websites with a simple design have fewer pages and sections, making it much easier to locate the information they are looking for. It’s also easier to find the navigation elements since you won’t have to scroll past a lot of clutter first.
4 Using a simple layout is already familiar to your audience.
If you look at some of your favorite e-commerce sites, you’ll likely notice that the layout is similar. The menu bar is at the top of the page, contact information at the bottom of the page, the shopping cart icon is usually in the upper right, and frequently the logo is on the upper left (which allows us to navigate back to the home page at any time). These are important elements of a minimalist design. People will find it easy to order from your site because it will feel comfortable and familiar to them.
5 The information on your site is easy to scan.
A recent study showed that 79% of site visitors scan a new page (with only 16% reading new pages word-for-word). Websites with a simple design typically incorporate a lot of white space, allowing the visitor to quickly find what they are looking for. When your site includes a lot of images and decorative features, it draws attention away from your content. Keep your content in the spotlight by eliminating these extraneous elements.
6 Simple websites are quicker to design, build, and maintain.
Small businesses frequently hire someone else to design and build a website for them, so most of the time small business owners don’t have to think about the code underlying the site. As a general rule of thumb, the more clean and simple the site is, the more clean and simple the coding is. When designers add multiple templates and sections in the coding, it gets complicated.
What’s wrong with complicated coding? Let’s assume that one day your website stops working properly and people can’t complete their checkout; shopping carts are abandoned and you’re losing sales as a result. This is an urgent problem that needs to get fixed quickly. If you have a simple website design, the problem can be located and sorted out quickly. However, a complicated site will take much longer to sort through and find the problem.
7 Smaller files take up less space.
Server space and bandwidth cost money. The more complicated the website, the more space it needs. Frequently, complicated sites can require as much as 1mb of space. A minimalist site, on the other hand, might be under 100kb. That difference alone would produce significant savings for small businesses.
8 Simple and clean websites won’t distract your visitors.
It’s easy to find what you’re looking for on websites designed with a minimalist approach. When the information is presented in a clear and concise manner, the user experience is greatly improved.
There is also an interesting psychological phenomenon that can occur when you give your visitors too many choices or too many buttons to click on; they can shut down and leave your site. It’s called the paradox of choice. Sometimes the more choices you give to people, the less likely they are to make a choice at all.
9 It’s classic and won’t need frequent updating.
Simple website designs have a timeless quality to them. You won’t have to keep updating it to keep up with the latest trends.
How to simplify your website
Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
When you’re ready to simplify your website, it’s time to sit down and take a close look at the site. First, look at the decorative elements on your page. Are they really necessary? For example, are the borders around images needed? How about the drop shadows? Next, look at the content. Is there redundant content? Can two pages be consolidated into one? Finally, remember to simplify the coding as well. Your designer should be able to help you streamline the backend of your site.
I think you’ll find when you simplify your website, you’ll generate more trust among your target audience which will ultimately lead to an increase in sales. Embracing the minimalist approach, just as so many other successful companies have, will give your small business a modern, professional feel that will make your company stand out from the rest.
Need help creating a simple and clean website for your company? Contact me and I’ll create the perfect design for your business.