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User Experience Toolkit

Aesthetic Minimalist Design

Minimalism is achieved by reducing a design to only the most essential elements. Expressions of minimalism span multiple disciplines, as well as other art forms such as music and literature. For website designers, though, minimalism can be intimidating and difficult to master.

Minimalism: Above the Fold

A user will only see one screen's worth of information at a time. This view window is commonly referred to as "above the fold" which is taken from newspaper terminology. It is not necessary to keep everything above the fold, but core relevant information should not be hidden.

Consider the Weather Channel screenshot below - the weather conditions and forecast are not visible above the fold... which is the most relevant information for the user.

Weather channle without weather

Minimalism: Signal to Noise

If you are going to have color or other visual cues, use them judiciously and have them mean something.

Consider the example below which uses a variety of colors to no apparent purpose.

Colorful copier service website

Consider the below example from a Google help survey - there is much visual noise such as the fieldset and table borders that could be eliminated to simplify the interface and bring the information that matters to the forefront.

Google help survey

Minimize Redundancy

Consider the below example where there are redundant inputs. Attempt to minimize redundancies in both labeling and inputs. When the same thing is listed twice, you are pushing other items down and competing with the user's attention.

Colorful copier service website

Minimalism: Functionality

Beware of the conceit of thinking that the actual end user will be as interested in the features as you were in designing them. It is easy to have feature creep with lots of bells and whistles that may not ever be needed by actual users.

Consider the below example of a student load website (which you would probably visit just a couple times a year). You can add your own personal widgets to it! Though the developers likely think that this is rad, you probably would not want to take the time to festoon it with all types of gadgets.

student loan widget

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