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Is Minimalism Still King in Web Design? Uncovering User Reactions to Minimalist Design Trends

Many experts say minimalism in branding and site design is a trend that’s here to stay. You’ve likely noticed big brands changing their looks to be more minimalistic. Apple, Nike and Airbnb, for example, all use limited colors and features on their sites to keep the look clean and crisp.

While many say that minimalism is king, some have mixed feelings about the lack of individuality in minimalistic design. Though sites with less clutter may perform better on mobile devices, some dislike the appearance and lack of unique features to show off personal preferences.

Is the Trend Here to Stay?

Although many designers, marketers and developers sing minimalism’s praises, the true test of how effective the design trend is lies with consumers. Reddit users dislike the style’s lack of self-expression. They say it is boring and needs more detail.

Most people like the uncluttered look and performance of simple designs. While not everyone loves the ongoing trend toward “less is more,” many appreciate the concept.

How Do Users View Minimalism?

Discussions on the internet show that people have mixed feelings about the theory. For example, one Reddit user noted that Mastercard used to offer more personalized debit and credit cards but has gone to a blank slate with only its logo, the word “debit” and the chip for readers.

The user shared the image of their old debit card beside the new minimalistic one on Reddit and commented, “Thanks, corporation. You killed the bears. And, [darn] you minimalism!” Others chimed in with similar stories, but a few pointed out how much they liked the simpler designs.

Others on the platform love the look and function of minimalistic design, with most seeming to appreciate the advantages. Those with mixed feelings aimed the comments at the old bear design on the credit card, which appealed to most. Some of the comments included:

  • Web design is not art but “intended to solve problems and deliver content to users, content that needs to be easy to read and understand.”
  • “The primary goal of UI design is to create an interface that empowers users to accomplish their goals.”
  • “[…] I agree that there are more aspects of what someone would call good design. I like the old [design], but as a user, it seems not serious enough for an institution like a bank.”
  • “I also recently got a new card. I like the minimalism on my new card, but only because the OG design was ugly to me. If I had cute bears, I would be gutted.”

Conversations on Quora’s forums indicated that millennials and Gen Z actually preferred minimalistic designs and lifestyles. One user stated she’s become more minimalistic as she ages. Another said minimalism as a whole is an approach that helped “shed the excess of life.”

How Do Designers View Minimalism?

While one Reddit discussion among web designers displayed mixed reactions about the trend, the comments were overwhelmingly positive towards minimalism’s benefits. Some comments included:

  • “[U]sability and compatibility have become more important than flashiness.”
  • “I rarely go to websites for the experience of the website itself, it’s incidental to its use. I go there for the content. If the experience makes the content harder to consume – distracting, awkward, confusing, slow to load etc, the website has failed and I will quickly look elsewhere.”
  • “In most cases, minimalism is associated with elegance through a small number of details. Although apparent, this concept is being used thoroughly across websites because of one fundamental reason: you can’t screw up that much with only a few elements.”
  • “Web design is intended to solve problems and deliver content to users, content that needs to be easy to read, and understand. A website has to be understandable at first sight. It has to attract attention to the important elements, and not distract attention with flashy elements. All that, plus with the limitations of mobile devices, and screens of all shapes and sizes, minimalism became the norm.”

The benefits of minimalism mentioned by these users shouldn’t be overlooked. For one, designers can more easily focus on a singular goal and a unified brand experience. Comparatively, you must consider more factors when you have a site that relies on many different colors or patterns. Colors might have ICC profiles that keep a hue consistent across various devices. Rather than defining all those colors, sticking with just one or two saves time and offers higher chances of a consistent cross-platform experience.

Designers must remember that, like any trend, users will have a multitude of opinions. Some people despise minimalism and find it dull and unimaginative. However, others appreciate the functionality of simple designs. Around 450,279 people work as graphic designers globally. Take inspiration from others who’ve embraced minimalistic design but still put their unique stamp on websites.

Minimalism Is More Like a Prince Than a King

At the end of the day, whether or not you use minimalistic design boils down to your audience. Rather than being the fallback designers should always use, it is more of an option that sometimes works. When in doubt, survey your users and find out their preferences, run multivariate testing and try different looks until you find the one that converts best for your audience.

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