Discovering Minimalism in WordPress Themes

Minimalist design on the web has been around for years. Usually, design trends come and go rather quickly. So, what makes minimalism different?

For starters, minimalism is more than just your average design trend. It’s not about using a specific color scheme or type of artwork. It’s a technique that will help you simplify the task of focusing on content and navigating a website. In that way, it’s more of a practice in philosophy than a temporary fad.

Minimalist design continues to be widely implemented across the web – and for good reason. This design technique creates a clutter-free environment, thus making it easier for users to navigate and read.

If you’re looking to create a WordPress website that is both attractive and user-friendly, free minimalist WordPress themes or premium WordPress themes will get you off to a wonderful start.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to simply fill every last pixel of screen real estate with content or imagery. Minimalism resists that temptation by incorporating white space in order to give each element it’s own room to breathe. It’s the opposite of the overwhelming designs we saw years ago.

Today, popular sites such as Medium, Apple and even Microsoft embrace white space and simplicity in design to highlight content. Their design choices have resulted in sites that are straightforward and easy to navigate.

Let’s take a look at some popular WordPress themes that implement minimalist design. We’ll also explore a specific element in each theme that represents this popular design technique.

Focus on the Message


One of the big advantages of minimalism is the ability to clearly communicate your message with users. For example, take a look at the slider of the Blossom theme above. The image is large and attractive without being overwhelming. The text is large and makes great use of white space to ensure that we can easily focus on it.

Blossom also features a variety of page layouts, unlimited sidebars, pricing tables, team and portfolio layouts and is WooCommerce compatible.

White Space Creates Separation


The use of white space is one of the key elements of minimalism. Here on the Milano theme, we see how the spacing of both the section header and individual post listing make for an attractive, easy-to-read layout.

The theme includes a large selection of demo layouts, five menu styles, sortable masonry portfolios and a copy of Visual Composer.

Minimal Design, Maximum Content


A common misconception of minimal design is that it only works for websites that don’t have a lot of content. While it does work well for sparse amounts of content, minimalism can also be an effective way to showcase a site with a lot of content. Take, for example, the stunning layout of Paperleaf. The use of a well-spaced masonry grid and clear typography take away clutter.

Paperleaf is billed as a “clean and minimal” theme, and that certainly holds true. It doesn’t include a ton of unnecessary features – just the basics to get you on your way to building a minimal, yet content-heavy website.

A Contrasting Palette


A minimalist design often means using a color palette that provides some contrast. As we see here with Inverto WP, the use of various shades of black and white makes for an understated color scheme. This palette also puts the focus on your content, as well.

Inverto WP features the ability to have either a one-page or multi-page website. You’ll also find multiple portfolio styles, page and posts layouts and a visual page builder.

Consistency Equals Clarity


Using a consistent layout is key for just about every website – but it’s especially important in a minimalist design. Looking at the Everest theme, we see a demo site with a lot of products for sale. But the consistency of each product in the listing makes it easy for us to browse through them all without confusion.

Compatible with WooCommerce, Everest provides several homepage layouts, support for WordPress post formats and a copy of Revolution Slider.

Clean Typography


Typography in minimalist design should be clean. It should also let the user easily differentiate header text from body text. That’s exactly what the Creek theme excels at. Notice the all-caps bold styling of the header and the beautifully spaced descriptive text underneath. That makes for easy reading and a sleek, modern style.

Creek has you covered with four homepage layouts, several grid portfolio styles, pricing tables, along with custom templates for About and Contact pages.

Images, Uncomplicated


This lovely photo grid, as seen in the Minelight theme, could have easily become over-complicated. Had large amounts of text been added or even visual effects like borders or drop shadows implemented, the look could have been cluttered. Instead, a simple grid layout is allowed to just be. In other words, this layout lets the images speak for themselves.

Geared toward portfolio websites, Minelight comes with multiple layout options, CSS3 animations, mega menus and a selection of custom-built widgets.

Simple Utility


Let’s have a look at the header of the Ameera theme. It’s not loud or overwhelming in the least. But notice how nicely the logo stands out in the middle. To the left and right, there are understated social media links and a search form. There’s a simplicity to this layout that also provides functionality. The same can be said for the navigation bar just below.

Ameera is built for blogging and includes four home page layouts, several options for listing your posts, lots of custom widgets and support for 10 WordPress post formats.

Subtle Visual Guides


You won’t find many design elements on a minimalist site that are gaudy or distracting. For example, the use of icons in the Bookmarks theme provide clean visual cues that compliment the content – rather distract from it.

Also included are a page builder, mega menus and the ability to use parallax, video or simple color backgrounds.

Tone it Down


Design elements like pricing tables can often become too fancy and polished for their own good. It seems like they’re styled in such a way that takes focus away from the actual content. Contrast that with the elegant pricing tables we see in the FlyPage theme above. Using minimalist design, you have something simple and beautiful. With tables as attractive as these, your customers will have no trouble deciding which package to buy.

FlyPage comes packed with a visual page builder, several specialized page templates and lots of options you can customize.

About the Author Eric Karkovack

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.