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What is aesthetic and minimalist design in UX?

Sheza Naveed

Aesthetic and minimalist design is the 8th usability heuristic presented by the Neilson and Norman group. Don Norman cited William Morris to explain this principle in essence:

“Interfaces should not contain information that is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in an interface competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.”

The design needs to be aesthetic as well as minimalistic. Aesthetics matter, as users are driven towards visually pleasing interfaces. Visuals are important, as they:

  • Create a good first impression. Users notice aesthetics in the first 50 milliseconds after landing on the page, which is 10 times faster than the times it takes them to read it.

  • Perception of the interface is more memorable than experience with the interface.

  • Establish and reinforce brand identity and credibility, as the perception of the interface is remembered by people.

The minimalist design aims to:

  • Minimize unnecessary noise in the interface so that necessary elements can be emphasized.

  • Eliminate any elements that do not support user tasks.

This leads to reduced information overload on the user.

Care needs to be taken not to remove necessary elements while attempting to make the design minimalistic. Moreover, a design can be minimalistic, but it does not satisfy the heuristic if it contains insufficient information. Minimalistic design should ensure that it has sufficient elements to complete user tasks.

Hello Bar homepage. Source: NN group

In the image above, the homepage is minimalistic, but it does not contain sufficient information regarding the company and the available features. Therefore, it does not satisfy the heuristic.

On the other hand, the homepage below is overcrowded with information. There is so much to look at that the user cannot find the important things that need to be emphasized.

Daraz home page

Design can be made aesthetically pleasing, minimalistic, and highly usable by doing the following:

  • Follow the design principles of scalerelative size, visual hierarchyarranging elements in order of importance, balanceequal distribution of visual signal, contrastthe juxtaposition of visually dissimilar elements, and Gestalt’s principles.

  • Limit unnecessary noise.

  • Make the design aesthetically pleasing.

Simple measures ensure that the design is highly usable and does not trouble the user. Maintaining a balance between reducing noise and keeping the necessary elements is essential.

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Sheza Naveed
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