Minimal design must have a point
A post on Whitespace considers minimal design of websites. I myself am a fan of minimal design. But I don’t always use it because it doesn’t always fit the brief. Minimal design in the sense that it was done deliberately and not for cutting corners must also fit the brand. Dirk Hesses site is a clear example of how minimal design can lift a site and it’s appeal to possible customers. Here the aesthetic value has been judged well. Even considering that the stakeholder was also the creator.
Minimal design, when done for the wrong reasons, can have a negative effect on a sites success. Aesthetics for aesthetics sake can actually backfire because if the user does not relate to the aesthetics, content and identity as whole they may disregard the site due to perceiving that it offers little or no value to them.
One reason that is valid and is not tied to branding identity is when a webapplication is very complicated. Removing all factors in the interface design that are not relevant to the customer can make the webapplication less prone to being misunderstood. However these factors are not necessarily related to aesthetics. To renounce what may be considered as ‘cosmetics’ thinking that it may hinder usability is not a very strong argument to opt for a minimal design.