13 Nov Getting more for less: creating an impact with minimalist design
The digital era has opened up a world of opportunity for design options in branding and marketing. But the fact that we can do more faster doesn’t always mean we should; when it comes to marketing, less is often more.
Busier isn’t always better
Most of us are familiar with the acronym TMI, but too much information doesn’t just apply to the oversharing of personal details. Businesses can fall into the TMI trap just as easily, and the oversharing of information in the form of multiple or busy fonts, too much text, and obtrusive graphics has exactly the same effect: people step back and tune it out.
For design to be effective and inviting, businesses need three things:
- Clarity about their message. The only way to pare your design down to the most effective basics is to have absolute clarity about what you are trying to say.
- A focus on content-driven design. Once you have your message in sharp focus, let it be the driving force behind your design choices.
- A willingness to eliminate what does not serve. You have a sharp message and a design driven by that message; now it’s time to examine each aspect of the design and make sure every element, from font choice to images, has a clear purpose in supporting the message.
Aiming for “thoughtfully less”
Minimalist design isn’t just about creating fewer elements, but about the purposeful and thoughtful creation and positioning of those absolutely essential elements—elements that have to be rendered and leveraged all the more wisely for the fact that there’s no distraction for them to hide behind.
Writing for the Interaction Design Foundation, Muriel Domingo points out the philosophy of industrial designer Dieter Rams: “Less is more, but ‘thoughtfully less’ means ‘better’. Making our designs good means making them simple; making great designs means staying focused only on the essentials.”
The basics of minimalist design
So how can businesses embrace “less is more, but thoughtfully less is better”? Here are a few of the basics of minimalist design to get you started:
- Keep it simple. That means copy, fonts, backgrounds, and images. According to com, a key to minimalist design is the “lack of tricks like fancy textures and drop shadows.” Use only what’s necessary to communicate your message and cut out the rest.
- Make strategic use of white space. Resisting the urge to fill up empty spaces with more information will result in an uncluttered and much more inviting design. “In a world of short Twitter posts, our brains shut down when they see too much information,” says Illustrated Designs, Inc. President Tracey Piechocki. “We don’t need to tell everyone everything in all of our marketing – we need to say enough to get them interested in learning more!”
- Create a balanced design. Balance is foundational to design in general, but its impact is even greater in minimalist design where fewer elements make placement and composition all the more important. Balance doesn’t necessarily mean strict symmetry, but has more to do with thoughtful groupings or pairings of elements. The goal is to avoid visual complexity or confusion. Citing a study from the University of Basel, Smashing Magazine notes, “visual complexity has been shown to affect a user’s perception of a website: The more elements a design has, the more complex it will look to the user.”
When your message doesn’t have to compete with background noise, interactions with your target audience are more honest and effective. For businesses looking to build brand identity and loyalty, embracing a “less is more” design aesthetic with thoughtfulness can make all the difference.
Illustrated Designs, Inc. has been at the forefront of the marketing industry for 30+ years. From design to execution, their innovative design team develops catalogs, event décor, printed materials, 3-D displays, and more.