Recently there have been quite a few articles discussing simple web design and how it appeals to Millennials. When I first wanted to write about simplistic web design, I did not even consider the factor of appealing to Millennials. I just assumed most people wanted websites that were less crowded and easier to use.
Then as I read and thought about the Millennials in my life and my own preferences as a Millennial, it made sense. Other articles (See The Principles of Simplicity by Oleg Karapuzov and Dariia Getmanchuk) said that Millennials have so much content and information dumped on them that it can be difficult to decipher meaning and take the appropriate action.
I can certainly attest to this. Having become immersed in websites, blogs, and apps I appreciate a simple and user-friendly interface. There is nothing more frustrating to me than not being able to find what I am looking for, or the next step in the process. A key player in this type of thinking is time.
As Millennials go through their days and multitask, their favorite applications and online resources become those that save time or are easy to use. For instance, it is tax season and like the good American I am I had to file my taxes. I had a choice in this process of whether to use an accountant or do it myself. And, if I chose to do it myself I had even more options between various tax services. I chose TurboTax, and I was very impressed by the results. The usability was exceptional, and the design was so simple it was striking to me. I still don’t love doing taxes, but my online experience with the process was extremely positive.
If you think about it, taxes are a complex and very important task. Much more complex than just buying a pair of shoes, so the organization and aesthetic really struck me as something to strive for, and to make processes easy as possible for users.
The main key to Millennials is simply simplicity. Make processes easy and save them time, and they will appreciate your service.
But, getting to the point of ultimate simplicity can be difficult, so here are some general guidelines to follow to get you on your way to winning over Millennials with a simple design.
Understand Your User
Many how-to sites want to suggest more aesthetic based fundamentals like color scheme and so forth, but the real root of an effective design is understanding your user and their purpose on your website. Some of the best advice I received while reading up on this topic was to put myself in the position of the user, and complete the possible actions and make sure they are as succinct and simple as possible. As the designer, place yourself in the shoes of your user for each task, and brainstorm what questions or issues might occur for that user. And, if you are too close to the product, have someone new try out your tasks and see what feedback they can provide to optimize your users’ experience.
Don’t Over Do It
Today it can be tempting to demonstrate all the latest functionality and design elements, but please don’t. Just find out what works for you and own it. There is nothing more distressing than seeing an overcrowded site with endless features that seem useful, but really just get in the way of the end goal. This concept can also be applied to the website’s content, organization and design.
Let’s discuss color as an example. Yes, color is beautiful and it seems like adding a wonderful color scheme would be ideal, but really it isn’t. It is much more effective if you use a neutral color scale and have a color or two to highlight important features. Many sights use color to highlight links, headings, or other areas of emphasis.
White space is your friend! There is nothing that makes a website look more clean and crisp than an adequate amount of white space. Don’t try and cram as much information as possible into your given space. Let your audience rest and have a nice avenue to follow that isn’t jumbled up and confusing.
This part may seem confusing. You may be thinking, how can I be bold and still be simple? But I promise, it can be done.
As Curt Ziegler describes in the article Less is More: Fundamentals of Minimalist Web Design, the Finch website is a perfect example of the properties of simple and bold coexisting. It can be hard to execute for your own website, so the best advice I can give is to look at other examples of the many articles that list the “top” designs for websites.
Organize & Downsize
This can be hard for websites boasting a lot of content and complex material, but even baby steps make a difference. To improve user experience it is important to organize the material and content on the website as best as possible. Instead of having 20 menu options, try ten. See what information can be reorganized by using different categories. Part of organizing means downsizing. You may have 30 pages dedicated to describing you product and services, but it can be more efficient to have 10 really well organized pages. Going back to the first tip, think about your user. If the content doesn’t directly answer questions about their purpose on the site or aid in any way, it may not be wise to include it. Don’t think of your website as a place to just dump all the information anyone may want to know about your product or service. Think of it as an organized representation that has a direct purpose.
The Design Principles of Simplicity by Oleg Karapuzov and Dariia Getmanchuk
The 10 Golden Rules of Simple, Clean Design by Addison Duvall
Taking the Occam Razor Approach to Design by Addison Duvall
30 Bold and Clean Web Designs for Inspiration by Stephanie Irvine