The digital graveyard is getting bigger these days. Like Clippy the Microsoft Office Assistant, once impressive computer graphics are falling by the wayside in favor of clean and simple design. Websites, apps, operating systems, and logos are all embracing the minimal aesthetic. The characteristics are easy to spot: flat dimensions, matte colors, symmetry, iconic shapes, and conscience use of empty space for the cleanest possible look.
William Powell Frith,A Private View, 1882 (Wikimedia Commons)
Tony Smith, Free Ride, 1962 (Wikimedia Commons)Typically, an aesthetic change happens gradually over a decade or so until it becomes the norm. However, it seems like in the last two years, every website, brand, and user interface has undergone a major redesign to fit into this new paradigm. But it’s not just limited to the digital world. Product packaging, cars, architecture, and fashion all demonstrate these aesthetic elements. So why is this minimal look so popular?
Three reasons why minimal digital design is on the rise:
1. People are less impressed with multi-dimensional graphics, and now just find them distracting. Also, increased screen resolution makes a minimal look visually pleasing rather than lazily built.
2. Faux realism is less necessary now that people are more comfortable with computer programs, websites, and touch screens.
3. With so much stuff on the web, simplicity and clarity is the best way to break through, quickly get your message across, and create a great user experience.
Looking Foward…I think the minimal look will stick around for a while. It’s popular among younger demographics, who are less concerned with the logo they’re wearing and more with the quality and usefulness of the product. Minimalism has an association with intelligent, purposeful, and meaningful ways of life—associations many brands need to make if they are going to stay relevant among these rising generations. This period of minimalism won’t last forever, but just like aesthetic movements of the past, its impact will undoubtedly shape what the future looks like. Illustration by: Walker Fisher