Minimal Design

Keeping It Simple But Effective

Why Minimal Web Design Matters

As you navigate my site, you will quickly notice that my design is purposefully plain and minimalist. This not only mirrors my natural propensity to keep things as simple as possible it aligns to my belief that over complex design, insesent pop-ups, and a constant barrage of advertising add little if any significant value to you as a user of a site that’s primary purpose is to inform, entertain and educate.

Simplicity aside there are a number of often overlooked reasons why it’s important to keep site design and associated code quick, small and simple. Here are some of the main ones.

The practical advantages of simple minimalist design.

#1. Overuse is easy - With cheap fast technology just a click away it’s very easy to get lost in the quagmire of possibility whilst using it everywhere because you can rather than because you should. My default preference is to strip everything back to basics and only using additional technologies where and when the design or functional requirements dictate it. Here’s a good example. I no longer use WordPress for my own personal web projects. I have clients who I design and host sites for on WordPress and there is no doubt that its ease of use, plethora of plugins and themes makes it relatively straightforward to quickly generate and manage a basic site, but for me I can replicate all the functionality I need by hand coding a couple of very light templates for home, product and contact pages.

#2. Performance & Resilience - Designing and coding my own sites negates the reliance on third-party platforms, incompatibility with plugins and slow performance. It's a fact that the more you add to a platform like WordPress the slower it gets over time. Using third-party software and systems can be also prove unwieldy and difficult to provide fast inexpensive resilience and site recovery if the need arises.

#3. Agility - Hand coding basic design templates It’s relatively quick to do. I heavily utilise the Bootstrap framework to produce quick results. Nothing to install, configure or manage. Fast,, Simple and easy.

#4. Compliance - Hand coding sites with frameworks like bootstrap makes it far easier to comply with standardised language syntax whilst maintaining full cross-browser support and a reliable responsive and predictable experience for users across a varied range of device types.

#5. Requirements - When you break it down most design requirements outside of defined application development are fairly basic, with the expertise of integrations and commerce based sites. For the most part, I can completely replicate third-party platform design and functionality and do it far more efficiently and reliably whilst maintaining complete independence.

#6. Versatility - Whilst extending a platform like WordPress to meet your own specific requirements can seem appealing, most users don’t have the in-depth knowledge to do it themselves and can quickly realise that they will be forever bound by the out of the box designs, theme layouts and plugins available. For many, this is not an issue, but if you need or want specific design elements or functionality that’s not available your going to need to develop and integrate that functionality yourself or engage with a developer to do it for you. Once again mitigating independence and agility and cost-effectiveness.

#7. Time and effort - I don’t have to concern myself with allocating time to system administration maintenance and updating third-party platforms and plugins. Keeping this lean and simple also negates inevitable upgrade and compatibility issues.

#8. Pure speed - hand-coded web pages load times are way faster than those created by third-party platforms and when it comes to the magic of search engine optimisation load times count. Search engines absolutely favour fast loading compliant pages.

#9. Backups & Recovery - the Backup and associated recovery processes are fast, simple and reliable. I have three simple scripts that run daily. One takes care of incremental changes, another whilst another performs a full site backup and copies it offsite while the last one takes care of recovery should it ever be needed. The whole process takes literally seconds to complete.

#10. Security - Because my site consists of static pages and has no reliance on third-party software being secure and little reliance on backend server-side protocols database technologies and program languages my security exposure is absolutely minimal. I use just what’s required to provide the functionality needed. Having little in the way of unneeded bloat also keeps the possibility of vulnerabilities to a minimum. The chances of any significant security breaches, virus attacks or hijacking are virtually non-existent. Remember my simple approach means that should the unthinkable happen, it's a mere inconvenience, not a disaster, I can redeploy my sites anywhere at any time within seconds if I need too.

#11. Portability - Because my site design, content and structure is not reliant upon installing and configuring third-party platforms, software or systems my sites are completely portable and can be run on any web server anywhere within minutes. This makes freedom, resilience, speed, migration and cost a trivial matter, conditions never to be over estimated.

#12. Search Engine Optimisation - Coding your own web pages allows you to far more granular when it come to customising meta information, keywords and linking strategy. This allows far greater control over Search engine optimisation than having to rely once again on paid third party Tools.

#13. Search Engine Optimisation - Coding your own web pages allows you to far more granular when it come to customising meta information, keywords and implimenting a workable linking strategy. This allows far greater control over Search engine optimisation than having to rely once again on paid third party Tools. Another pro for minimal hand coded pages is the fact that once created all of your content is available and consistent. Many platforms like wordpress, joomla and drupal for example only generate your content and pages on demand. This means that many of your sites pages can often remain hidden and will not be crawled and indexed by search engines. With statically generated content is always visible and Its easy to upload and update a sitemap to the your web server which can be consumed by search engine crawlers to quickly categorise and index your pages content.

#14. Compatibility - Minimising requirements, keeping things simple and removing as many superfluous moving parts as possible means I have Virtually zero compatibility issues.

#15. Modularity - Keeping my web architecture modular with a bias towards microservices principles, whereby each component does a single job or manages a single process allows me to once again keeps things simple. This approach also increases performance, resilience and security whilst mitigating many of the inherent dependency issues and administration overhead that needs to be considered on monolithic platform architectures.

#16. Freedom - A really important aspect of maintaining simple design and requiring minimal technology means I get complete freedom. I’m able to host and run my sites and applications on the most performant servers and at locations of my choice. This uncomplicated approach has allowed me to build a robust, highly secure and lightning-fast hosting service that far outweighs the competition in both price, security and performance.

#17.Focus - keeping a complete focus on simplicity and functionality , Allows me to focus on the creation of content. I don’t want to spend hours editing a picture or getting a post thumbnail just right before I can publish an article.That takes valuable time away from creation, slows down page load times and other than providing a slightly more aesthetic appearance provides little tangible value for those of you who consume my content.

#18. New Technology - One of the great aspects of maintaining your freedom and independence by hand-coding your own sites and applications is that you are free to leverage new technologies and or new features as soon as they become available should you wish to do so. You don’t have to wait for those technologies or that new functionality to be incorporated into the base system or made available via a plugin you can just install it and use it.

#19. The Hammer - As convenient as the likes of Wordpress are, sometimes it’s a hammer to crack a nut. I have a number of clients who’s businesses revolve around no more than a simple product or landing page with the ability to capture email addresses. Instaling and maintaining a complete platform just to generate a couple of pages is woefully inefficient. These types of pages are simple to design from scratch using bootstrap4 for example or to modify from my own catalogue of template designs that I have built up over time.Being able to code simple landing pages also negates the cost of having to sign up to a platform like Instapage or Leadpages in order to provide customised product or landing pages.

Summary

These are just a few of my own personal reasons for hand developing certain websites. There are of course as many augments against my points and most of them come down to convenience and ease of use. I’m certainly not mocking those as relevant considerations for many users but it's worth remembering that convenience and ease of use usually come with a cost attached and the costs, in this case, our freedom of choice, performance and security. Added to which who wants to do the same as everyone else is doing.

Your requirements and skill levels may dictate you have to opt for third-party platforms and software, but it’s well worth learning how to set up your own hosting platform and hand-coding your own sites, even if it's only for you personal or hobbyist sites. Over the last 20 years, I have seen web design and site creation software and platforms come and go , and whilst the likes of Wordpress and eCommerce platforms like Shopify aren't going away any time shortly, it’s always an advantage to learn how to be independent and maintain your freedom without complete reliance on these platforms if you ever need to.

 

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