Taking Inspiration from Zen for Web Designers

  • Share
  • Share

"zen design"People are wanting less these days and this is true when it comes to web design.  Minimalist web design is trending, where form follows function in a look that’s pleasing to the eyes.  You might be new to the concept and yet, you’re exposed to minimalist designs everywhere – from your smartphone, a clean app, a simple living space and so on.  What’s beautiful about this idea is that it’s more than just a visual style, where design is stripped down to essential elements to help people get the most out of your website.. with less clicks, less confusion and zero clutter.

The Birth of Minimalist Design

If you’re an architecture fan, you might have encountered Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or the De Stijl movement.  I’d like to focus more on Japanese traditional art and the Zen principles in this post though, as the subject is close to my heart as well.  Minimalist design doesn’t have to be boring though and you can still give your site an edge by using:

The Art of Omission

Just because we are talking minimalist design here doesn’t mean going simplistic.  There’s a difference between that term and simplicity.  Let’s go for the Kanso concept of beauty and elegance by setting aside what is not essential and amplifying those that are needed.  This can mean using compelling images that invokes emotion so you can engage with your site visitors, or blog readers – without having to use a rainbow of exploding color palette to do so.  You can also try to emphasize key elements in your site, use contrasting tones for your message to stand out, or align content that will guide your readers’ eyes.  So, before you even add another element to your site, ask yourself:  Is it really needed?

The Art of Authenticity

Another Zen concept is Shizen, where you refine design by making it appear natural, minus the elaborate design.  Here, you only use what is necessary to convey your brand message through web design and content.  It can be a tricky task though as you have to practice the art of subtlety.  For example, you may add a little color that compliments the white space, something that helps separate content in your site which helps improve reading experience.  Personal branding is essential here and being authentic may simply mean using a language and tone that’s understandable and natural, minus the jargon and keyword-stuffed copy you often read in sites that are meant for search engines; not humans.  It can also mean having an honest site where you promise products or services you CAN deliver.

The Art of Elegance

Also known as Shibumi, this may also mean understated elegance through your choice of colors, header, font/typography, site navigation buttons and other components of your website.  Every detail counts here and you have to use color minimally, if you can.  The trick here is to think of how your site visitors will feel when they visit your home/landing page.  You simply have to love white space and emphasize certain parts through a simple pattern that will make viewers feel comfy… and make sure that this pattern is predictable in all of the pages (repetition).  A clean typography combined with strong visuals can stimulate people’s emotion and intellect, thus, leading to that elegant feel which will make your site simply memorable.

Having a Zen-inspired web design helps increase readability and usability, which can mean making that first impression last with your site visitors.  Keep in mind that design needs to partner with great content to help achieve that unforgettable experience that will make people come back for more.  So, try striking a balance between Zen and Content Marketing – where you can invoke that impression of modern, funky, fresh, clean, sophistication that will help boost your online identity.

Your Turn

Are you ready to do more with less? Have you tried minimalist design yet?  Share your thoughts!

Secrets of Simplicity

Something Interesting:

40 Amazing Minimalist Website Designs for Your Inspiration
20 Inspiring Minimalist Web Designs
Minimalist Design: A Brief History and Practical Tips