At first glance, minimalist websites might look like they’ve just been slapped together as quickly as possible. After all, they’re plain and simple, and most people tend to associate lots of detail with good craftsmanship. But the same rules just don’t apply to the online world.
It only takes a small amount of user interaction to quickly reveal the quality of a minimalist site. This is because the original idea that fueled the rise of minimalism was that functionality is inherently beautiful. A design that clarifies and reveals the structure of a website can be just as appealing as one that obscures its purposes behind fancy decorative additions. Furthermore, it often yields a much better user experience, because those unnecessary distractions are eliminated.
Of late, you may have noticed a crop of new site designs have a softer and lighter look. After all the rainbow brights and even neon or fluorescent hues that have been so popular of late, it seems that some designers are taking a more subtle approach by using lighter or muted colors.
Although the same basic treatments are still being utilized — like colorized photography or color blocking — the new hues are making for a more refined and understated variation on these themes. Today we’re going to delve into this trend a little more, and explore various design examples and approaches.
It’s no secret that the agile development process has been hurtling through the development world for several years now, swatting aside the older, clunkier waterfall development method. To be fair, whether it was agile or something else, waterfall really had it coming, as its risk-averse, top down approach just can’t keep pace with the demands of today’s marketplace.
While similar changes are occurring in the design world, the agile design process should necessarily look and feel a little different than agile development; they are, after all, different disciplines. Let’s take a deeper look first at what agile development is, and then at a few great ways to adapt the process to the design world.
Icons can be considered one of the universalities of web design; almost any website benefits from the addition of at least a few of them. So it’s tempting to assume that if you sprinkle in a handful of these little pictures, your job is done. But there’s a lot more to it than that: good icons should feel like they’re visually integrated into the group of images that they’re in, as well as into the site design as a whole. They need to have a conceptual clarity and purpose that goes beyond being mere eye candy. Any icon that doesn’t serve a stated purpose, or doesn’t convey the right concept in its imagery, is one that needs to be reconsidered.
Of course, there’s room for interpretation and generalization with any kind of imagery, but icons are not mere illustrations that are used purely to break up space and add interest: they’re visual metaphors that can invest meaning into a subject at a single glance; and as such, they’re a powerful tool for improving user experiences.
Sometimes it seems like every time you jump online, you read about a talented new designer who’s making it big with their latest project. There are a lot of wonderful designers out there, and the constant showcasing of others’ skills makes it feel all the more like you’re lost in the crowd. It’s not enough anymore to have a solid portfolio and work experience; if you really want to stand out in today’s market, going the extra mile in marketing yourself can make all the difference in landing the perfect job, or getting some great freelance projects going.
When you’re considering all the ways that you could market yourself, the most important thing to take into account is how much of a time commitment you can realistically make. Don’t overstretch yourself with a daily blog entry or illustration unless you think you’ll be able to do a great job on it. There are many different levels of requirement for projects that can make a difference in your career; choose what works for you.