Web designers often launch very intricate and detailed websites as a way of “flexing” their creative muscles. And while there’s nothing wrong with building advanced mock sites for a design portfolio, you should stick to clean, minimalist design when it comes to client work.

Simple is Always Better

The term KISS stands for “keep it simple, stupid” and was coined by Kelly Johnson, one of the most famous and talented aircraft engineers in history. The term came about in 1960 when, “Johnson challenged his team of engineers to design a jet aircraft that could be repaired by a mechanic with limited skills and equipped with only a handful of basic tools,” designer Joe Flory explains. “At its essence, the principle implies that systems work best if they are kept simple, straightforward and easy-to-use.”

While the KISS acronym may have initially been used for aeronautical engineering, it has since been applied to just about every creative field imaginable – including web design. In today’s age of design, simple is always better.

Four Ways You Can Keep it Simple

Also referred to as “minimalism,” simple web design is characterized by doing more with less. Here are a few specific ways you can do this effectively in 2016 and beyond:

  1. Remove Sidebar Clutter

There’s nothing worse than visiting a site and seeing a ton of clutter. One of the places where clutter tends to settle is in the sidebar. You’ll see everything from biographies and advertisements to subscription boxes and links. While it’s fine to include a couple of these elements, don’t go overboard. Look how nice this page from Honest Hockey’s website looks with a clean sidebar. Your sites can look just as good if you cut down on clutter.

  1. Stick to a Simple Color Scheme

There’s no sense in overwhelming your site’s visitors with a bunch of different colors. Your site’s color scheme plays a huge role in moving customers to action and it’s best to stick with just two or three different tones. You may even want to go with a monotone scheme.

“The thinking behind having a monotone color scheme is that with fewer colors for the user to process, the content that you need to emphasize (i.e. a line of text, a call to action, or an image) will have a better chance of grabbing the user’s attention,” designer Ryan Camomile says. “It’s a simple and effective technique for getting the job done.”

  1. Remove Useless Elements

Contrary to popular belief, more is not better. While we live in a society where people think they need more to be happy, the reality is that happiness is rooted in simplicity. When people have fewer choices, they feel better about the selections they make.

In terms of web design, this means you should cut out useless elements that don’t serve a purpose and instead focus on the ones that do. This concept certainly holds true when it comes to opt-in subscription forms. By requiring only one field on subscription forms – as opposed to two – one study shows you can increase opt-ins by as much as 12.44 percent.

  1. Keep Value Points Above the Fold

Finally, remember to keep things above the fold. While you should find ways to make efficient use of below-the-fold content, the value points are better reserved for the top of the page. This means all calls-to-action, opt-in forms, and key multimedia elements should gravitate to the top, while supplementary content should sink to the bottom.

When in Doubt, KISS

Whenever you’re in doubt about how to design a certain element, page, or website, remember to KISS. Thankfully, minimalism is the hot trend and you can use this to your advantage.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll soon enjoy higher conversion rates and more satisfied users.