Design & UX
By Tara Hornor

Top Minimalist Website Designs: Trends and Examples

By Tara Hornor

When you think of minimalism, you may conjure up images of black and white color schemes, overly-simple layouts, maybe a splash of color here and there. The actual concept in context of web design is about stripping out anything unnecessary. While this can produce boring design, there is a LOT of creative freedom within this framework.

Minimalism seeks to identify the real, functional needs of users and get the clutter out of the way. Want an experiment? Take a screenshot of any modern, monetized blog, throw it into Photoshop, and start erasing sections you do not need to navigate and discover content. You’ll be amazed at how much can go: the header image (usually), the ads along the sidebar, other gadgets you never really need. The end result may be strikingly similar to these designs.

Some of the trends that have emerged are likely a response to the over-the-top monetization of blogs. With banners, ads, and widgets, oh my; well, maybe we’re packing too much on a page. Text-based nav bars, use of grid layouts, minimal colors, large graphics sans text, and hyper-minimalism are just a few of the responses we’re seeing to overly-busy websites.

Text-Based Navigation Bar

The text-based navigation bar has no roll-over graphics. No bells and whistles. Just a simple text-based message that tells you how to get where. This trend goes to show it doesn’t take much to guide your readers around. While the horizontal arrangement is classic, note how a few of these sites mix it up.

Si Scott Studio

Green Light Creative

Jan Reichle

Core Division

CDP Architecture

The Grid

Billboards, books, text-boxes – these are all examples of grid-based organization in an insane world. Grids keep things nice and simple. You know where to expect the next element, whether that’s a graphic or a text-block. These sites use grids to organize a stripped down site and manage to keep things visually interesting as well.


Kyle Tezak

Offset Media


Stu Greenham

Minimal Color Treatment

Who says you needs lots of color? In the below examples, the designers did a great job of minimalist design while also stripping the colors down to almost nothing. What this does is create an opportunity to intentionally draw the eye of the reader to specific places on the page. Headers, titles, and other important sections get the color treatment and the copy stays black/gray.

Arty Papers

Sean Green

Stapley Design

Daniel C. Gold

The heading on this site changes to red when visitors hover the mouse over the text.

Daniel Blumenthal

More Graphics, Less Text

Sometimes a picture says everything that needs to be said. This doesn’t work on every website, of course. Check out how these designers decided to remove pretty much everything BUT the graphics. The effect can be stunning.

Thomas Cheng



Rachel Ridings

Woody Romelus

Hyper-Minimalist Designs

Then there are the few who take minimalism to its farthest logical extension. If you can say everything you need in a few short words, maybe that’s all you need. You get the benefit of ultra-fast loading times, easy updating, and a focused message. Did these designers make it work?


Frank Chimero

Lauren Doucet

Simon Foster Design


  • Anonymous

    Minimalism absolutely floats my boat.  Jan Reichle looks very good.

  • Great examples. Really digging the Finch website. Nice layout.

  • Ian

    I really like minimalist design, but it’s very hard to SEO.  Have a look at most of these examples… where’s the text?  Sure you can use intenal pages, but the frontpage is where I (personally) spend the majority of my SEO time.

    but a good collection.  Thanks!

    • Jim

      Forgive my naivete, but how does minimalist design prevent keyword selection in or white on white text (assuming there is a vital need for volumes of visual verbiage)? In fact, isn’t one of the concepts behind minimalism the ability to scan and move along? The idea, if I’ve caught this ball properly, is to have a front page (and site?) which pulls in the user by sheer force of will rather than oodles of odious phraseology und photography. It is the primary reason I “Google” instead of “Yahoo!”.

      • Mark

        Here’s the ball to catch Jim:

        Gorgeous site – clear, concise, great calls to action. And not a bloody design portfolio in sight – most of those listed by Tara bore the teeth out of me, or is that the sheer force of will you’re talking about? ;) It’s a fine line between minimal and empty.

        • Tara Hornor

          I hear you, Mark. :) Some of these sites I also have trouble finding the appeal in. On the other hand, though, I still find myself sitting back in awe when I stumble upon a minimalist site that presents a simplistic design aesthetically. For instance, I love the Finch design and Jan Reichle the most out of the above collection. However, I understand how some could find these “boring” as the designs are still very minimal. I’m a “straight-to-the-point” kind of person when it comes to websites, though.

  • nick

    check this out

  • Sadly YOUR website has “error on page” !!!  oops

    • Daveeliason

      Many big time websites show “error on page”. Tv guide is just one example….


  • Anonymous

    Nice collection. 
    I have a tendency to lean on the minimalist black, white & grey side in a lot of my designs- Colour is a bit scary sometimes (: I came across this site from a link from one of the sites you listed here. I like Si Scott’s swirly style:

    • Tara Hornor

      Thanks for sharing this site…this one has also been one of my favorites for awhile. I can’t believe I forgot to include it in this post! Argh!

  • Jimniels

    my portfolio site is pretty minimalistic. check it out at

    • Tara Hornor

      Beautiful site, Jim! I am truly impressed. Thanks for sharing! I encourage anyone reading these comments to check out your website. :)

  • DavidF

    These are some interesting designs – but the problem I always have is that in example portfolios like this, all the sites are just designers’ own websites and portfolios. There are no examples of making this work for a REAL website. It seems a little turned inward. I’d like to see some minimalist sites with real world content other than a design portfolio.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, my thoughts exactly – if I was designing portfolios all day this would be useful in my day job. But as designers’ portfolios aren’t often reflected in commercial website design in other sectors (client: “ooh I see a bit of whitespace, let’s fill it”) it’s not that relevant to me.

    • Mark

      Right with you on this one David & wb.

      Tara, this is a really one-dimensional (and rather lazy) approach that does nothing but expose a few designers’ sites to a few designers reading this.  As David points out, if you had some commercial examples in here, that came from unexpected sources (“hey Mc Donald’s, loving the minimal approach you’re now taking!”) then you’d have created something to give us reason to sit up and take an interest.

      Design for the real world, not design for designers. That’s where the education lies.

      But at least we all know how to make our portfolios feature in a blog post, so I guess that’s a bonus.

      • Jim

         I suspect it will be a while before the “avant garde-de-jour” filters down to the  “experts” who in turn “sell” the “consultants” who in turn “market the concept” to the IT professionals of the commercial world (ie, McD as you mentioned) at the next “what’s hot what’s not” conference on Oahu. They in turn will have to consult whatever blogs they follow before finishing conceptualization and passing it along to the peons in their web coding department. This enormously cumbersome process can take as long as a month depending on the timing of the elements. Let’s check back in mid-1Q 2012.

    • In one way, I agree with you; it would have been nice to see “real” sites. But when you think of it, portfolio sites are “real” too. They exist to promote a designer’s own business. But yes, it would have been interesting to see minimalist sites for others, not just from designers.

      And as pointed out further down in the comment thread, there is a big problem with these kinds of sites and SEO. 

      • Mark

        I hear what you’re saying Thomas – but have you not noticed that very few of the portfolio sites shown here have any noticeable (ie we’ve heard of them) brands in their book? I’m not for one minute bagging minimalism – it just seems that we’re approaching this in a very narrow and design-for-designers manner. 

        And Gary – it’s ironic that you choose precision engineering (a niche industry if ever there were one!), but what about the other facets of business? 

        • MartinJ

 and both have big brands on their books. Of course they’re still design companies themselves :) 

          • Mark

            They’re not in the list Tara supplied. Doesn’t count. ;)

        • Maybe one of these days I can do a roundup of minimalist big brand sites, as there seem to be several here who’d like to see more of the commercialized side. As much as I love designer websites, I understand that it may help provide better inspiration for designers to see trends in practice for the “real world.” :)

    • Gary

      I personally prefer the minimalist style.  If I’m looking for precision engineering companies to do a particular job I don’t want to be presented with flashy graphics or colour.  What I want is a quick link to “What we can do” and how to contact us.

      My own web designs in the real world tend to follow that attitude.  If it’s not functional then it’s not necessary – spot the engineer..:-)

  • Thanks for the mention!

  • I really like Daniel Blumenthal’s site, a good cross over of minimalism with content that would fall into a clients (real world) site as mentioned in the comments below…thanks for the post always good to see other designers sites too: )

  • MartinJ

    We launched a minimalist site for a “real” client recently. Not quite as minimalist as these examples but getting there… And although the site now needs some tweaks, it’s generating serious enquiries for the client. It helps that the client has a clear, simple proposition for customers so the design was able to “get out the way” and communicate that proposition.

    Not going to post the URL unless someone asks for it :)

    • Mark

      I’m asking. Let’s see colour of your money…

      • Mark

        I’ll have a ‘the’ in there also…

    • MartinJ

      I knew someone wouldn’t resist ;). Like I said, not quite as minimalist, but getting there…

      • Mark

        I can see the principle you’re aiming for MartinJ, but there’s a danger with minimalism disappearing into anonymity – remove the Vossbrook logo and what happens to the site? A small aside, why does the secondary navigation layer change depending on where I am in the site? Seems like a strange UX decision. Ditto with that ‘Read more’ drop down? Yuk.

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by design ‘getting out the way’ – I presume you’re talking about extraneous flourishes and little butterflies? Design is invaluable if it’s appropriate (and yes, if it’s wholly inappropriate then there can be some fun to be had too…) – a well-constructed message beautifully typeset can be a powerful thing. Great to see the client having faith though – and good to hear that it’s had positive results for them. I appreciate you putting the link up.

      • I like the simplicity of the site, and I also like the layout of the large photo with text to the right. It balances well with the large amount of white space above it. However, something about the navigational menus is off. Maybe it’s a bit confusing to have both menus stacked on top of one another? It’s like my eyes do not know where to look first. Maybe you could create some hierarchy with different font sizes or rearrange the menus so that one is on the side of the page.

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  • Lebisol

     Reality is that most are choices made by lack of time to do more due to working on clients sites LOL.

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