Okay, before we get too involved, we should give some definition to ‘minimalist web design’ as the term can mean different things to different people. For us here at Shimmer, a minimalist web design refers to a website that is created to achieve maximum effectiveness with just the fundamental essentials. Also, it should be easy on the eyes and specific in content. The Shimmer website that you are currently visiting is our example of minimalism.
Common features of a minimalist website design:
- High contrast text and background for ease of read (black on white works best).
- Simple, intuitive navigation (menu structure).
- Limited number of icons and graphic elements.
- Larger images only where they enhance user experience (of course, this is a bit subjective).
- Limited number of advertisements.
- Limited use of widgets (survey forms, social gadgets, games, etc.).
- Consistent theme.
- Focused content on each of the individual web pages.
The above list can get considerably larger, but for the sake of keeping this article short we’ll limit things to those eight features of minimalist design.
For those that follow SEO, you already know about the infamous Google algorithm updates — for the uninitiated, these are unannounced changes that affect the way Google ranks web-pages for search placement. For the SEO folk’ they can be a welcome change, but more often than not they require us to update our SEO techniques and practices so that they remain in-line with Google’s mission; Provide The Most Relevant Content To Its Users.
In February of 2011, Google launched the Panda Update. Panda was aimed at websites that provided a poor user experience as determined by Google’s quality rating logic. In January of 2012, Google released a page layout algorithm update that had a quick ‘down-ranking’ effect on many sites featuring little content above-the-fold. Simply, if you had to scroll down a website before you got to any relevant content, there is a good chance that the website received a less than favorable move in Google’s search results pages. This all means that a website’s usability, page layout and content placement are important factors for Google when determining the sit’s quality (and, by association, its search results placement).
Now, with the Penguin update, Google is going after ‘spammy’ websites as well as those utilizing unethical SEO (black hat SEO) tactics, or websites that are trying to cheat their way to the top of the SERP’s.
Minimalism, it’s the way to go… for SEO: After reading the above, it should start to seem clear why a minimalist web design can have a positive impact on your SEO efforts. If your focus is geared towards climbing to the first page of the Google search results, then you can’t go wrong with a clean, content focused, uncluttered and ‘spam free’ web design. It’s what Google likes, and they will reward you for it :-)