Take a break from information overload with these beautifully minimal websites

For this month’s Double Click, we’ve gone for clean and simple over complex and busy.

Date
27 October 2020
Reading Time
7 minute read

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Minimalism is hard to get right, but when you stumble across something which is clean, simple and efficient it can be incredibly satisfying. Minimal graphic design, in particular, can be soothing and inspiring and even evoke a visceral sense of calm. In fact, it makes me want to go home, throw away half the things I own and remodel my home like some perfectly composed Instagram account.

The sites featured in this month’s Double Click are a testament to the minimal website. The ones which gently guide you where you need to go, giving you the space and time to take in its content, whether that’s someone’s CV, beautiful photography or a small vital bit of information. Each is simple, by definition, but perfectly executed. And each pays tribute to the importance of negative space, giving you a welcome break from the overwhelming side of the internet.

Johannes Breyer: josephkadow.com

Joseph Kadow is a photographer who likes to keep things simple, very personal and with a reflection on real-life people or situations. It’s for this reason that Johannes Breyer, co-founder of Swiss type foundry Dinamo, when designing Joseph’s site, opted for “No fancy zoom functions, no slideshows; but instead: everything on one long page.” It’s a solution which makes sense, especially when the photographic work is as strong as Joseph’s is – really, you just want to see the images and enjoy them for what they are. The idea was also to mirror the verisimilitude of Joseph’s work by creating “an archive of sorts for Joseph’s work, some kind of diary” that’s continually added to as his practice develops.

By using one long scroll in this way, the site – which was developed alongside Morgan Brown – spotlights the images in an absorbing manner, as they satisfyingly fill your screen. “We wanted to put an additional spotlight on everybody involved in the projects and did so by applying a large type size for the credits,” Johannes explains. These are set in a custom typeface, developed by Dinamo specifically for this site. What’s more, travel is an important part of Joseph’s practice and “by scrolling downwards you can travel with him,” Johannes adds.

Languages and tools used:
“JavaScript and PHP are the primary languages. It’s a Vuejs app (JavaScript) sitting on top of Kirby CMS (PHP). For the styles, we’re using SASS/SCSS. The mobile experience is aided by a Vuejs library called Vue-Touch, but its behaviour is ultimately custom (surprisingly even to myself!).”

Arthur Haegeman: hanamiletic.com

One advantage of creating a minimal website, especially when it’s a portfolio, is that the impact comes entirely from the creative’s work, rather than the site itself. And that’s certainly the case for Hana Miletic, whose website was designed by Ghent-based creative Arthur Haegeman. “All the design decisions on this website are really subtle,” Arthur explains, “allowing the work to speak for itself, when you have good content this is possible and it doesn’t need to be embellished in any way.”

How this manifests on the site itself is as an almost stackable navigation system, controlled by the user. “You almost start with an empty website and by clicking through the menu you start calling up projects which are all loaded under each other creating your own journey through her work,” Arthur further explains. “[Hana] always has really nice images of her work and exhibitions. So we wanted to show this instead of designing a ‘cool' website. Combining these images with a very simple menu and straightforward navigation system worked pretty well.” What’s more, because of the nature of Hana’s work, which is difficult to comprehend through a single image, this system allows visitors to view several images at once, getting the “bigger picture” of a project.

Languages and tools used:

“The site isn’t built with any fancy technologies, we use the WordPress admin for content management, in combination with plain PHP and Javascript to build a custom template.”

Pau Orts Ros: vicentorts.es

When we did some digging to find out who designed the portfolio of industrial designer Vicent Orts, one we’ve been a fan of for a while now, we got a lovely surprise: turns out it was his sister Pau Orts Ros! It follows, then, that this project also emerged from a particularly lovely process. “We often call each other to talk about our lives because we live in different countries and meanwhile, we work together on the website,” Pau explains. In many of these conversations, the concepts of process and learning came up; two driving factors in Vicent’s work. “These ideas were translated in the website as an unfinished and direct tone, in which we didn’t want to over-design and we tried to communicate with the user from an unpretentious language.”

That unpretentious language means the site is pared back in its communication, allowing users to wander around and discover Vicent’s work as their own pace, especially due to the lack of text on the site. It’s a project which also changes regularly with Pau describing their collaboration as an “informal and unstructured way of doing, I guess because we’re brother and sister.” For example, to start with, Pau “organised the content into a grid and one night, Vicent cluttered everything because he didn’t feel comfortable with the ordered layout to show his work. Family rules, I think.” In turn, the website defies the rigidity associated with minimalism, despite its fresh and effortless aesthetic.

Languages and tools used:

“Vicent needed a site to host and show projects and neither of us like social media. We looked for something cheap, where he could modify the content and appearance due to fact he is in a changing and learning period. That’s why we decided to use Lay Theme for WordPress. During one afternoon, a friend explained to us how it works in exchange of croissants and after installing it, Vicent and I worked from the many possibilities offered by the theme and with some details of CMS that we learned from searching the net.”

Jason Bradley: jasonbradley.co

For Amsterdam-based creative developer Jason Bradley, when he was designing his own portfolio site, it was important that whatever he made should communicate who he is, what he does and where he is, instantly. It’s for this reason that he landed on a one-pager, with a coloured background and block text. In fact, “What makes the website unique is its minimalistic nature,” he says. “[It] allows me to quickly introduce the basic information and get into showing what’s important, which is my work.”

The way Jason, who collaborated on the design of the site with Ben Mingo, does this, is through a simple slideshow of images which only triggers when you interact with the mouse. Users can then flick back and forth through the slideshow by moving their mouse around the page too. “These interactions combined with having a clean yellow background with the Elgoc typeface gives the website a strong, memorable experience,” he says. And we couldn’t agree more.

Languages and tools used:

“Nuxt, Javascript and SCSS are used with no usage of a CMS.”

Jingqi Fan: jingqi.work

Rounding off this month’s delectably minimalist selection is a portfolio site for graphic designer Jinqi Fan, designed and developed by Jingqi herself. With projects sitting on a loose grid, the site presents visitors with an easy to digest and navigate portfolio which features small moments of interaction and animation which give off a feeling of finesse. The main idea, Jingqi explains, was to “construct a seamless journey through my personal body of work,” which is why she “built my portfolio site with a visual language that feels airy and elegant while keeping project content front and centre.”

One of the smart accents of the build that really helps to create that seamless, slick experience is the fluid page transitions, something which was very much deliberate. Jingqi describes how they are “at times invisible, even text highlight styles are reused as hover states.” It also draws on users intuitiveness when it comes to navigating a site, employing a simple scroll with minimal clicking required, making the entire experience an easy and calming one. “Ultimately,” she says, “I intended the site to feel familiar yet distinct, very much like the projects it showcases.”

Languages and tools used:

“This project is built with Nuxt using its @nuxt/content module. Behind the scenes, the framework generates a lightweight static site builds with data fetched from Markdown, acting as a git-based headless CMS.”

Wix Playground is proud to support Double Click, a monthly round-up of some of the most interesting and innovative websites and digital designs out there right now. We’ll discuss minimalistic, sophisticated, and experimental websites with creatives who regularly push the limits of web design, and learn about the process that shapes their work.

Supported by

Wix Playground

Wix Playground is dedicated to celebrating design culture and freedom, giving creatives the tools they need to grow, connect, and experiment. Promoting fresh and bright voices, Wix Playground provides our community of multidisciplinary designers insights to shape their online presence using Wix’s professional design capabilities. 

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Further Info

Double Click is our monthly round-up of some of our favourite websites and digital designs floating around out there on the world wide web.

About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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