Minimalist web design

“Minimalist web design relies on subtraction and the preservation of empty space.”
Tokujin Yoshioka

“It has nothing to do with minimalism, more to do with cutting away to find the true strengths of my idea.”
James Irvine

“Minimalism in interior design has become a caricature. Everywhere you find shops or hotels with an ambience that makes you feel like you are in a refrigerator.”
Andrée Putman

“Minimalism and anonymity are the two elements which make up the essential nature of the muji.”
Enzo Mari

“Minimalist design 'make the simple things simple, and the complex things possible. My aim is to combine simple elegance and functionality to a timeless form.”
Xavier Lust

“My father adored the concept of minimalism, zen culture, the essence of things.”
Barnaba Fornasetti

“I wrote a little manifest once about what I thought my style was, and I called it ‘sensual minimalism’ or ‘sensualism”
Karim Rashid

Summer of 2007

Web minimalist has come back as a trend in the summer of 2007. Rainfall Daffinson adores the concept of minimalism, zen culture and the essence of things. We chose 24 moments of minimalist web design in the last decade, selected several quotes to easily define the minimalism and represent some of the best new minimalism websites.

Jonanthan Ive (Late 90’s)

When Ive joined Apple the company was in decline. It seemed to have lost what had once been a very clear sense of identity and purpose. The return of Steve Jobs and re-establishing of the core values made Apple pursue a direction where design and innovation again formed an important factor. Working closely with Jobs, Ive developed brilliant products that changed Apple and industrial design. Jonathan’s minimalism approach inspired interface designers worldwide.

In 2003, Colin Bennett created marvelous “A Tribute to Jonathan Ive”, how it would make the interface look like if it is designed by Jonathan.

37signals, silverOrange, skinnyCorp, Twothirty (1999-2005)

Originally written in 1999, The 37signals manifesto collected nuggets of online philosophy and design wisdom. It represents original school of 37signals thinking. After the launch of Basecamp in 2005, company switched focus to Web-based software and downgraded elegant minimalism they mastered years before.

silverOrange are great example of mantra “not quantity, but quality”. Canadians led branding strategy and created a site for Mozilla Foundation, developed well-known Intranet software. silverOrange’s designer Daniel Burka redesigned interface and continued interface development for a Digg. Interface of version 2.0 that Burka created largely set Digg on the way to the stars.

Jake and Jacob met through a design forum. They both entered into a tee shirt design competition and Jake actually won it! After that they come up with the idea for Threadless and formed skinnyCorp to make it happen. Through the phase of doing web development client work, company was notably positioned because of minimalism.

In previous firms, Twothirty did not achieve success through blogosphere in the days of the wonderful Web 2.0 world. Company remained small, today it’s still in business and working for client such as MTV, VH1, Bad Religion and Mercedes-Benz.

SimpleBits, Hillman Curtis, Daring Fireball, Todd Dominey, Kottke (1999-2005)

Dan Cederholm’s tiny web interface design studio is a pure example of the great minimalist interfaces based on power of css code.

Hillman Curtis from New York proved that he could bring together new media design and minimalism: designing both small heavy Flash advertisements and most trafficked sites on the Web, such as Yahoo. Today he is producing online commercial documentaries for Adobe and BMW. He is also producing personal films.

Daring Fireball is one of the world's most beautiful minimal sites.

Atlanta-based web designer Todd Dominey is known through his studio Dominey Design and personal web site What Do I Know. is a home of fine hypertext products since March 1998. Blog minimalism at its best.

Jon Hicks, Group94, Dirk Hesse, MetaDesign (2000-2006)

From the UK, the air support comes from RAF’s Jon Hicks. One of the best interface designers in the world, famous by his Firefox logo, has largely inspired the minimalism movement in Web interface design. In Europe, Group94 from Belgium has been mixing flash installations, pixels and minimal approach over the last decade in a new media design.

In August of 2003, Jeffrey Zeldman introduced Dirk Hesse to the world with the following words: “Although we cannot speak a word of German, we understand his site.” MetaDesign is well known German minimalist design firm.

Douglas Bowman (2003-2005)

Google kidnapped the best interface designer in the world! In three years between Wired Digital and Google, through his consultancy Stopdesign, Bowman created famous interfaces for Wired News, Adaptive Path, Blogger and Capgemini.

Designboom, Paul Nixon, Émigré, HUGE, UX Mag (2004-2006)

In the days when everybody on Web has gone mad for some Asynchronous JavaScript thing and started putting web-two-oh on everything, the true minimalism was hiding in industrial design sites like eminent Designboom. Apple’s Paul Nixon and Émigré magazine contribute to New Web minimalists. Design company HUGE has switched off the flash superhero stack and redesigned it’s corporate site in minimalism. UX Mag refreshed the scene with innovative use of the grid system.

A List Apart 4.0 (2005)

August, again. In August of 2005, List Apart 4.0 hit the deck. Designed by Jason Santa Maria and produced by Jeffrey Zeldman, it was a milestone for interface design community.

Grid system movement: Vinh and Boulton (2004-Present)

Due to Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction 7.0 and Mark Boulton’s grid system articles, the grid system movement is reborn on Web. Creating elaborate and beatiful designs with complex grid systems and layers of text was timeless style of Paul Rand. Originaly emanated from Swiss graphic design school, books about grids and typography became essential food for inspiration-hungry interface thinkers and problem solvers. New web minimalism is reborn!

Google (1999-Present)

Of course, we didn’t forget the small company named Google.

Jonathan Ive

A Tribute to Jonathan Ive from 2003.

37signals Minimalist Web Design

37signals from July, 2002.


Twothirty from July, 2002.


Stopdesign Bleached from August, 2004.


Subtraction 7.0 from January, 2005.