Minimal Beauty

A year ago I stumbled across what looked like a place-holder website where I expected there to be a full site - it looked like those fake sites that are spoofed to look like a Google search, one where you've entered bnakofscotland.co.uk rather than bankofscotland.co.uk. The site in quesiton was GOV.uk, the homepage of the UK government.

After a few seconds, I realised that it was actually the right place to be, and I was surprised - I was used to the Direct.gov.uk site, a rather harsh yellow and large Arial font wielding site, one that was poorly laid out. This, however, was impressive in it's spartan utility.



The more I browsed, the more I liked - sparse pages, simply worded and concise text, easy to use links, and a logical layout. For example, the change the address section about driving licences features all the information that you need in a very well laid out and logical way. It was in such a well design way, in fact, that I assumed that the site wasn't the government's official site, but an unofficially made site that parsed that information in a much better way.

But no, the site is made by the UK government, and has won awards for it's simplicity and design. The more I see it, the more I like it and it's style. Even the style guide, found here, is full of great tips on how to make a complicated site easier to understand and follow.

Have a look through the site and note that it's minimalist design it functional and has purpose, and see where a lot of other websites (maybe even this blog) fail. Instead of provoding easy to use sites, they bloat with functionality. I love Gmail, but the user interface is horrific in parts (including the "new Compose" which is horrible). I gave longingly at Outlook's flat and sparse interface.

I wonder if this simplicity will be taken and used across the world. It seems like such a small change, but like the London Underground Map's obvious-but-earth shattering design, I expect it to roll out across the world.