“Keep it simple”. It has become a mantra. Everyone should preach simplicity in the same way the Catholic Church preaches through the Bible, the Islam via the Quran or the Judaism through the Kabbalah. Call it a dictum, or even a postulate, but simplicity is at the heart of some of the greatest achievements of humankind. Some of the world’s finest equations might seem esoteric at first, but they explain nature phenomena in some of the simplest terms. Nature favors symmetry. Asymmetry is evolution’s worst foe. From molecules to distant galaxies, from snowflakes to sunflowers, from spider webs to honeycombs: everything displays some sort of symmetry. Our bodies are symmetrical too. Complexity is just simplicity iterated through endless loops of symmetry. We are attracted to things that are simple, elegant and symmetric. What about simplicity in design?
If you have ever played Mario on your Nintendo, you know what a great user experience really is. The video game was revolutionary. And it all came down to one thing: simplicity. The plot was simple. The design and graphics were mostly plain. The user interface was simple too. The game caught on mainly because it was simple to play. But, if there is one thing that made the video game so successful, that has to be simplicity of design. This worked for the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Users are becoming more and more demanding. In a time when attention span is shrinking, how do you keep user engaged and satisfied? Enter the minimalist design philosophy.
You might have already come across sites or apps that best exemplify the use of white spaces. Also known as negative space, this design philosophy emphasizes the importance of space between elements. Through the use of white space, designers can attract user, keep them engaged, offering a delightful User Experience (UX) in the process. Keep in mind that white space does not necessarily mean a white or a blank page. Most sites and apps are content-driven, and white design is your best friends in this respect. Users choose a clean and sleek design over a cluttered page any time of the day. By applying white space design (or negative space), you create a vacuum of content. This way you attract users to the exact content you want them to view. There are three main benefits to using white space design:
1. You increase legibility
Using spaces between lines of a text, navigation bars, headers or paragraphs, you make your page even more readable and enjoyable for the users.
2. Your app or site looks aesthetically pleasing
Imagine how ugly a cramped page looks. Using negative spaces, the User Interface (UI) is more organized, sleek and more likely to deliver a satisfying User Experience (UX).
3. You add sophistication to the page
Using white spaces makes your site or app look spacious, and as a result users perceive this as a sign of elegance.
The mantra of design is: know your users. Before you even build the product, you have to know the context and its users. For instance, a minimalist design approach would not work with big e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay. Where content is bulky, a traditional UI would work just fine. Design is all about ease of use and clarity. Every time you can, reduce the visual noise. Keep images and layouts simple. Use white spaces whenever you can, as much as you can.
Curiosity is what keeps user coming to your page. By using white space design, you build a simple and eye-catching UI and utilize some text to guide the user to the other parts of the page. Such a simple but perfectly crafted UI might serve as a lure to attract the user, revealing the app or site one step at a time. Granted, your product should be build with end users in mind. Applying a minimalist and simplistic design approach, you have greater chances of keeping users engaged, and you deliver a great User Experience as well. There is no secret formula to white or minimalist design. Practice makes perfect.
Complexity is your worst enemy. If you ever feel the urge to go uber-complex on site or app, remember Leonardo Da Vinci’s sage advice – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.