The interconnectedness of things is fascinating. The effect that the economy exerts on fashion and design is an example. As we approach the recession’s second birthday, minimalism appears to be making a comeback on haute couture runways and product packaging.
This fall’s fashions include lots of neat, uncluttered lines of black and grey. Coca Cola and Pepsi have carried the cola wars onto their packaging. With the recent launch of new packaging from both camps, it appears they are trying to outdo each other with sparse designs that are free of drop shadows, keylines and other graphic accoutrements.
However, if you spoke to a web designer, he or she might want to get at least a share of the credit for current deign trends. You see, web designers had minimalism thrust upon them long before the recession.
The “canvases” that clothing and package designers use haven’t changed much over the years. The human body has remained the same for about 10,000 years, and didn’t change much when it did. The iconic Coke bottle has the same basic shape that it had over 100 years ago.
At the other end of the spectrum is the “canvas” of the web designer, the PC monitor. Web design has been a real profession for about 15 years. In that time, PC monitors have quadrupled in size. In the early 1990s, many internet users were still using VGA monitors, which restricted web designers to a frame of 640 pixels by 480 pixels. Today, monitor resolutions of 1280 x 1024 are common.
What does a designer do when contents remain the same, but the frame is larger, Moving elements apart, to fill up the new space, is an early inclination. When web designers did this, they discovered the power of “whitespace” – a gap between elements in web design that, if used correctly, help the page contents be better and more easily consumed by the viewer.
Whitespace has become an integral part of today’s most successful web designs, which, when compared to earlier designs, look nothing short of minimalist.
If you want an example of very successful “minimalist” web design, which predates the current recession (and even the tech bubble), try Google’s homepage.