In this day and age of Web 2.0, where websites have been AJAX-ified to within an inch of their lives, where Flash is still often over-the-top and gratuitous, simplicity has become even more important than ever. And what can be more simple than black text on a white background?
Of course, such a minimal design aesthetic is nothing new — Lord knows I spent plenty of time pursuing that particular aesthetic here on Opus. However, rarely have I seen it done as well, or as effortlessly, as on PlainSimple.
Run by designer/developer Gilbert Lee, PlainSimple is, well, plain and simple. The journal pages display only one entry at a time, with nice, large text, and the color scheme is quite basic — white, black, and magenta. It’s the sort of design that, upon first glance, looks like any yahoo could have done it. But take it from me, such simplicity is actually difficult to achieve.
It’s all about achieving balance — balance between the white space, the text, the images, the colors, etc. If the balance is even a little off, the design looks, at best, half-finished, and at worst, sloppy and tossed off. But Lee has found that thin line.
The white space draws your attention to the text and photos, which are all lined up in one centered, fixed-width column — resizing the browser just increases the white space, which makes the content the focus all the moreso. The text size is slightly larger than normal, which aids in reading and comprehension, and again reiterates that the content is the focus, be it Lee’s minimal writing or his gorgeous photography.
I think Lee sums up my reactions towards his own design with this entry of his: I often get ‘wow’-ed by heavily-designed things but it’s the simple things that I always remember and end up using over and over.
Web designers have more tools and abilities than ever at their disposal when it comes to making great, powerful, and exciting websites, and as such, websites are more complex than ever before. And it’s a trend that probably won’t slow down anytime soon. Which is why nice, simple, and effective design like PlainSimple’s — where the focus is on balance and communication, rather than flash and flare — is all the more refreshing and even necessary.