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Marketing 360® Blog

An Introduction to Clean Website Design

Post By Scott Yoder | Design & Branding

When you start working with a designer to create your website, they will prod you in the direction of creating a clean design.  You’ll have loads of images, ideas, and content.  But they’ll keep telling you less is more.

So what is clean website design, exactly?  Is it minimal and uniform?  Colorless and drab?  Wiped down with bleach?

You may not have heard the term “clean design” before, but chances are you know it when you see it.  Let’s explore some details so you can achieve it for your business website.

Clean Does Not Have to Be Minimal

Clean design is not the same as minimalist.  In fact, a clean website design may be content rich.  For example, the New York Times has a great deal of content, but also a clean design:

nyt clean website design

This page keeps all this content manageable by using a well-thought-out grid system.  There is a balance that prevents it from seeming as if the content was just plopped into a certain spot.  Your eyes flow naturally over the page.  Contrast this to the 007 Museum website:

clean website design  There is a disorganized, chaotic feel to this website’s layout that leaves you wondering where to go.  It’s lopsided with an uneven use of whitespace.

Clean Color Pallets

What about color?  Is a clean website dry and white?  Isn’t it more appealing to have vibrant, stand-out colors?

You might think that a large corporate website would be flowing with colors – like a digital Picasso.  But notice how many of these websites are really quite simple in appearance.  Take Fidelity for example:

A company like this could smear their site with pie charts, arrows, bold numbers, and images of business people.  But they don’t.   Instead, the site makes minimal use of color, which makes the information easier to find and read.

Compare that to:

bad website design

There is more content on the Fidelity web page, yet it has a cleaner feel.  The slight use of color in fonts and buttons give a positive feel to the page, where the deep red and yellow on Prosperion site feels overwhelming and aggressive.

Clean Typography

Also, note how the Prosperion site – with minimal text – still manages to use three different fonts.  Poor typography is another enemy to clean website design, and an easy mistake to make.  For example:

clean website design example

The purpose of words on a web page is to communicate ideas.  They must be read by visitors.  When you start changing fonts, text size, and colors for the sake of mixing up the design, you undermine that purpose.  Notice on Frys how your eyes wander, searching for what’s important.  But the font shifts undermine the sense of hierarchy, leaving you confused about what to read or where to click.

Imagery

Clean website design also means tasteful, restrained use of images.  Images make an instant impression, so inconsistent imagery will throw users off quickly.  Notice how you’re overwhelmed by the use of imagery on this page (also too many fonts):

website design too much image

Contrast that to the elegant feel this page (designed on the UXI® template) creates:

 

Conclusions

Cluttered website designs with uneven layouts and excessive content are a sure sign of amateur work.  The problem is that design template software makes it too easy to add content and alter its elements.  Inexperienced designers easily go overboard, like the proverbial kid in a candy shop.

Often, the amateur designer thinks their overwrought work is fantastic.  But the muddled designs disorient visitors.  All it takes is that instant of disorientation to turn people away.

Clean website design is achieved through refinement.  Often, professional designers start with an overload of content and design elements, then clean-up the design by applying the principles we’ve discussed.

Achieving this level of refinement is deceptively difficult because the results appear simple.  But take a look at some of the biggest technology companies in the world, like Apple.  Their design is refined and simple but was obviously achieved by the meticulous work of professionals.

At Marketing 360®, we have a website design template system that’s fairly easy to use.  But we have you work with professional designers anyway.

Not to create something complex, but to provide you with the refined, highly-trained work that results in a clean website design for your business.

Here are more tips on creating a clean website design that converts: