You’ve probably been hearing about minimalism all over the place. People seem to be applying it to every aspect of their lives. Well, it has made its way into web design, as well. And, responsive web design seems to be a particularly good partner for website minimalism.

Why minimalism?

In the first days of the web, every new website capability was exciting, and many pages loaded up with as many features as possible. The web was a flashier, more gimmicky place back then. But, today websites have become sleeker and more professional. That’s where website minimalism comes in. It pares a website down to the features that provide the best interaction for the user. Just like minimalism in the home cuts down on clutter, website minimalism cuts away the clutter on web pages so users can focus on what’s important.

How does responsive web design fit with minimalism?

Responsive web design essentially makes website interactions easier for users. And, that’s what minimalism is all about—simplicity. Here are the main ways a responsive website simplifies internet use:

  • One URL—Before responsive web design became popular, many companies were creating second websites made to accommodate mobile users. That meant they had to maintain and update two separate websites—one for PC’s and another for mobile devices. Furthermore, users would have to wait to be redirected to the mobile site if they typed in the URL from their mobile device. Or, even worse, if the company didn’t have a mobile site, they would have to wait for a cumbersome desktop site to load, and it likely wouldn’t function properly when viewed on a smartphone or tablet.

With responsive web design, users can enter the primary URL and experience fast load time and complete functionality, no matter which device they are using. And, companies only need one website to maintain and make updates to.

  • Simpler pages—The concept behind responsive web design is that web designers start with the basic functions needed on a page, and they make that the foundation of the website. This basic page is what is seen on the smaller screens of mobile devices, where large menus, graphics, and videos don’t load easily.

Using progressive enhancement, the designers then add in more complex features for users accessing the site from a desktop or laptop computer. Progressive enhancement basically means that your browser or device will be able to load the minimalized page, even if it can’t load every feature the designers put it. It creates a functional website no matter where a user is accessing the site.

  • Prevents unnecessary hassle—Responsive web design acknowledges the fact that mobile access will continue to increase, but that sites will also continue to be accessed on PC’s. Leaving out either user base would be a huge mistake by any company. Users become accustomed to being able to access information wherever they are, and they want to be able to access your information regardless of whether they are using a PC, smartphone, or tablet.

That being said, accessing large amounts of information on a smaller screen can become a pain. Overly complicated sites require users to scroll for long periods of time, which can be frustrating. That’s why many websites are scaling back and becoming picky about what they choose to display on their site. It’s really no different from applying minimalism to your home—you have to be picky about which items you keep in order to make your life simpler and less of a hassle.

What is the benefit to website owners?

Paring down your site to work well with any device has the simultaneous advantage of allowing you to really think about what is most effective. You want users to come to your site and immediately get the information they are looking for and take the action you want them to take. Research has shown that users typically only spend 15 seconds at your site. Keeping things simple so they can find what they’re looking for in that short amount of time is essential to getting user interaction and converting leads.

Would you like help figuring out which features are most relevant on your website? Talk to our expert responsive web design team in Toronto.

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About the Author

Dan K