The New Rules of Minimal Design: Best Practices, Examples, and Tips
While there is nothing new about minimalism as a design trend, the application and techniques are ever-evolving.
Some of the most notable changes with modern minimal designs are the use of space, color, and typography treatments. These design elements can make the overall aesthetic seem new and fresh or show a more dated style.
Here, we’ve put together a guide on how to do minimal design right with some best practices, examples, and tips for creating a modern feel.
Let’s dive in!
What is Minimal Design?
Minimalist graphic design uses typography and design elements with a purpose to create a simple and usable visual display. Contrary to popular opinion, minimalism is not just stripping all of the “design” out of a project.
Minimalism is designing with distinct intent.
Some characteristics of this design style do include a more simple visual scheme, plenty of white space, and not a lot of bells and whistles. You know minimalism works when it is beautiful and functional.
Want to learn more about minimalist graphic design or find templates to jumpstart projects? We have a guide here.
Minimal Design Best Practices and Tips
A modern minimal style has a distinct focal point. While a focal element is true of almost any design – minimal or not – an interesting, unusual, or somewhat surprising visual element can add just the right modern touch.
Consider a trendy typeface, color, or animated effect to make the design feel in the now.
Then stick to these best practices and tips to ensure that your minimal design is as functional as it is simple.
- Stick to one design trick. It can be visual or interactive.
- Take a hard look at design elements and remove most of them. From text to user interface icons and elements, remove anything that does not have specific and intentional meaning.
- Set a streamlined color scheme – a background color, text color, and accent color. Make it feel modern with bright or trending hues. (Plan B: Select a monotone color scheme with one color and one text color.)
- Consider symmetrical and asymmetrical options. You may be surprised by how a simple shift can impact the design.
- Design for consistency. This can get more complicated as the design grows. It’s a lot easier for a business card than a full website, but you want to create something you can continue to model and replicate throughout the design.
- Don’t be afraid of whitespace. Use it liberally.
- Match your brand. Minimalism can be hard if your brand style doesn’t follow the same philosophy. It’s not for everyone.
- Take chances with typography. Let the lettering be the focal point of the design. Consider an oversized, undersized, or experimental type option to generate maximum impact.
- Design an “Easter egg.” These design surprises, most commonly found in websites, add a true element of delight to the user experience. They can also add a modern touch to a super simple design scheme.
- Land somewhere in the middle. It’s ok to mix more complex design elements in a minimal design framework. Don’t get so caught in the idea of minimalism that the design suffers. It’s perfectly acceptable to find a middle ground.
10 Minimal Design Examples You’ll Love
Ocean Conservancy Book Design
Modern minimalism works great online and in print applications. This example of a book design has amazing balance with images and white space across spreads with simple color text accents to add emphasis to the right words.
Vintage Minimal Logo Template
Modern minimalism often has a vintage feel, ironically enough. With just typography, this template example shows how a minimal logo can make an impact with a vintage feel. It is fresh and interesting without being overwhelming.
Reducing the Obvious
This website design has a simple and minimal visual presentation paired with more complex effects. Each side of the screen scrolls independently, but the open design never loses its impact.
Martin Laxenaire Portfolio
What’s nice about this minimal design is that the traditional black text on a white background is swapped for a bright blue. There are also some fun hover states and animations that add a little something special so that the design has enough interactivity to hold your interest.
Minimal Portfolio Template
This simple minimal portfolio template design is sleek, has plenty of space, and uses stellar typography to pull it all together. The edgy use of line breaks for “portfolio” has a modern flair that is attention-getting.
Helix Sleep Cards
Color can create a focal point with a minimal design in amazing ways. Note the connection between the front and back of the blue postcard with blue ink on the opposite side. Beautiful, simple color.
Mix and match simplicity and complexity on a minimal framework for an interesting yin and yang feel. This modern touch has all the tenets of a minimal design without falling flat.
Minimal Wedding Cards Template
Minimal does not have to mean colorless. This beautiful set of card designs features a mix of soft and saturated color options for a stunning minimal display. Within each color card, there’s plenty of space and a light aesthetic that’s perfect for the wedding design application.
Industrie 4.0 Award
When thinking minimally, don’t neglect imagery. Images, video, illustrations, or animation can be a stunning element – even in a minimal design.
Here, a strong minimalist design leaves something to the imagination with design elements that feel like they extend beyond the canvas. Great color options and subtle elements add to the charm with the muted words behind the image and the continuation of the logo line throughout the page.
Working with a minimalist graphic design scheme can be a fun design challenge if it is not something you are used to. On the other hand, there are plenty of designers who fully embrace the minimal aesthetic and it shows in their projects.
Your goal should be functional and elegant when thinking minimally. Make it modern with one focal element that really sets the tone of the project and overall design.