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Key Principles of Minimalist Graphic Design

In this article, we look into the definition, history, and essential components of minimal graphic design.

Kujtim Aliu

Senior Graphic Designer

Key Principles of Minimalist Graphic Design

Minimal graphic design is one of the most powerful and attractive art forms you can use for your business’ branding. The popularity of minimalist graphic design has increased dramatically. When it comes to minimalistic aspects, the saying “less is more” surely holds true. 


In this article, we look into the definition, history, and essential components of minimal graphic design. After finishing, you should have a solid understanding of how to create your own minimal graphic design.

What is Minimal Graphic Design?

Minimal graphic design is a style of art that makes use of few elements, a lot of white space, and a limited range of colors.  Every element of the design needs to serve a certain function and be well-balanced to create a sense of symmetry. 


Minimal design originates from the minimalist movement, which began in New York City in the early 1960s and is also known as “literalist art” and “ABC Art”. It is said to have been influenced by a distaste of Action painting, which highlighted spontaneity and free-flowing brush strokes. It also had an influence from the Dutch De Stijl style, also known as Neoplasticism. This style favors small, basic colors like red, yellow, and blue and tends to be minimalistic and geometric.


The main goal of minimal graphic design is to draw attention to the few essential elements that are used. These few elements are still important by themselves, and there’s no need for unnecessary decorations.  It can be characterized by the saying, “Less is more,” which results in everything in the design having a specific function. Everything has a purpose; nothing is unnecessary. 


You’ll be able to easily convey information to your audience using simple designs. Additionally, because there are fewer design elements, web pages load much more quickly. 


You should take into account the following factors to produce a finished product that meets all the ideas and requirements:


  • Improve your informational and graphic content. It’s important to choose the right amount of information to show on the document or website. In order to be considered minimalist, the text should be brief and have two boldly colored accents, with the color serving as its main focal point.
  • It’s good to use signs, symbols, QR codes, and patterns that are understandable and prevent the overcrowding effect.
  • Every word, image, and symbol should work together to help you convey your primary message. Get rid of as much as you can and get straight to the point. 


In the end, a minimalist web design is simple for search engines to scan and index, making it simpler to optimize your branded website. With all these benefits, it’s understandable why everyone is using it to secure their position at the top.


Now that we know what minimalism is and its history, we can go over the rules of minimalism in graphic design.


Be Simple

Simplicity lies at the heart of minimalist graphic design. It serves as a fundamental principle that guides every creative decision. 


It focuses on removing unnecessary elements and reducing design to its basic aspects. Simplicity creates a sense of visual harmony. By removing distractions and embracing negative space, the main point can stand out.


In minimal graphic design, simplicity fosters clarity and enhances communication. It encourages a focused and direct approach where every element serves a purpose and contributes to the overall composition. The use of clean lines, minimal colors, and clear typography brings a sense of elegance and sophistication. 


Designers make a bigger impression on the viewer and are more memorable as a result of using simple designs with only the necessary parts. This explains why so many modern companies have adopted minimalism as their preferred design style. It allows them to show their goods and services in a clear, straightforward manner.


Visual Hierarchy

Hierarchy is a fundamental principle in minimalist graphic design. It requires placing visual components in a clear, logical order of priority.


The hierarchy guides the viewer’s eye and directs attention to the most important elements. It does this through the strategic use of size, color, and placement. 


An easy-to-understand composition is achieved by minimizing clutter and unnecessary details. This makes it easier for users to navigate, which improves the readability of the text and image selection.


In minimalist design, hierarchy can be achieved by using a limited color palette, emphasizing contrasting sizes, and using negative space effectively. You should give importance to elements like headlines, text, and graphics. This way, the hierarchy makes sure the reader can understand the intended message. 


This principle helps maintain clarity and focus, allowing the minimalist design to convey its main ideas. Thus, an important aspect of minimal design patterns is to follow visual hierarchical principles. Organize the information so that it leads the viewer’s eye in the direction you want.


Select Simple Typefaces

Not enough focus can be placed on the value of typography and font faces. They play an important role where every element should convey a clear message with precision and simplicity.


Most minimalist graphic designs choose simple, scannable sans-serif typefaces.  The most effective method is to carefully consider readable and clean lettering styles. The visual material should be clear since the design won’t include many elements.


In minimalist graphic design, typefaces are used sparingly to emphasize the message or focal point of the design. For the headlines, it’s important to use big and bold typefaces with lots of empty space. 


Keep in mind that functionality should come first and take priority over aesthetics. For this, use a readable typeface rather than one with excessive color saturation. The letters should have a balanced structure with consistent letterforms that create a sense of order and clarity. They should use a lot of line spacing and have a constant x-height. 


It takes science to choose the best typeface. Text legibility and readability need to work together. Your job is to test several fonts to see which one suits you best. Then remove any that make it difficult to tell the difference between individual letters or symbols.


Negative Space

Negative space, also known as white space, is a vital principle in minimalist graphic design. It refers to the empty or unoccupied areas surrounding the main elements in a design. 


Negative space allows your eyes to rest and helps create a sense of balance and harmony. It adds a feeling of openness and spaciousness to the design. Think of it as a visual breather amidst all the elements. Just like silence in music, negative space brings balance and clarity to a composition.


In simple terms, negative space helps create a sense of focus and makes the important elements stand out. It’s like framing a picture on a blank wall—by leaving some empty space around the image, it becomes more prominent and captivating. 


Negative space allows our eyes to rest and appreciate the beauty of simplicity. It brings a feeling of calmness and elegance to a design, making it visually pleasing and easy to understand. So, when you’re designing, remember that less can be more, and don’t be afraid to let the empty spaces speak for themselves.


Limit the Use of Color

Colors play a crucial role in minimalistic graphic design. They can evoke emotions, set moods, and enhance the overall visual impact. In this style, simplicity is key, so it’s important to use a limited color palette. By choosing just a few colors, designers can create a clean and harmonious look.


 A design appears noisier the more colors it uses.  It’s a common misunderstanding that minimalistic graphic design may only use monotone colors. But that’s not really the case. Limiting your palette to two primary colors and, sometimes one accent color is essential for selecting the ideal color scheme. But in the end, it all comes down to figuring out what suits your needs and requirements the most.


In minimalist design, colors are often used to convey meaning and highlight important elements. Bright and vibrant colors can be used sparingly to draw attention to specific areas, while neutral tones like whites, grays, and blacks dominate the overall composition. This creates a sense of calmness and sophistication. The contrast between light and dark shades can also add depth and dimension to the design. Remember, in minimalistic graphic design, less is more when it comes to colors.


Use Grids to Maintain Order

Using grids in minimalist graphic design helps create harmony and balance in visual compositions. Imagine a grid as a series of invisible lines that divide your design into neat and organized sections. It’s like having a guide to place your elements in a structured way.


Grids make it simple to arrange all the components in a visual layout. They help create a sense of order and clarity, making your design look clean and professional.  This makes it easy for the viewer to recognize the key information in your design project. 


By following the grid, you make sure that everything is placed in a logical and visually pleasing manner. Grids are like the backbone of minimalist design. They provide a solid foundation for your creativity to shine through.


Use Grids to Maintain Order

Balance is a key component in minimalist graphic design that helps create harmony and order in visual compositions. Imagine a seesaw—when both sides are equal, it feels stable and balanced. Similarly, balance in design is achieved by spreading visual elements throughout a composition. There are two types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical.


Although not always symmetrical, minimalist designs frequently have a good sense of balance. A web page might have a picture to balance a big, bold title. Or perhaps a menu button and a logo are balanced. 

Symmetrical balance is like a mirror image—when a design is divided into two equal parts, and each side reflects the other. This creates a sense of stability and formality. 


But on the other hand, asymmetrical balance involves arranging elements of different sizes and shapes to achieve a harmonious equilibrium. It’s like a puzzle, where each piece complements the others without being exactly the same. This type of balance adds visual interest and can evoke a sense of movement or energy.


Whether symmetrical or asymmetrical,  balance in minimalist design helps viewers feel a sense of visual stability and order. It guides the eyes across the composition, making it easier to understand and appreciate the message being conveyed. 

By understanding and implementing the principle of balance, you can create visually appealing designs that captivate the viewer’s attention while maintaining a sense of simplicity and elegance.

Final Thoughts

The key principles of minimalist graphic design are like a guide that helps us make beautiful designs. These principles help us arrange things in a way that makes sense and helps people understand when they see our designs. So we should remember these principles to create designs that catch people’s attention and look really nice. 

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