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I'm currently taking a web design/web development course and the two following questions are being touted as being extremely difficult by the course instructor, and I'm not too sure how to answer them:

  1. Under what circumstances would you NOT want a clean, sleek and minimalist website design?

  2. On the contrary, under what circumstances would you want a clean, sleek and minimalist design?

These questions take the stance of "you" being the web designer/web developer, but the instructor said that extremely good answers will consider both the perspective of the web developer AND the perspective of a user.

closed as too broad by DA01, Mayo, Devin, Graham Herrli, JohnGB May 25 '16 at 20:11

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • IMO clean and sleek are not exactly synonymous with minimalist, I think all websites should strive to be clean and sleek. – DasBeasto May 25 '16 at 12:11
  • This is a great article about why many ugly websites have more success: blog.crazyegg.com/2015/07/07/ugly-website-design – Paul S May 25 '16 at 12:15
  • Quite honestly, your instructor's question doesn't make any sense at all, there are no set in stone rules for which you should do sites clean or not. Sleek... What does it mean? For who? Minmalist is necessarily good? According to who? Really, this looks like the archetypical course where you'll need to unlearn everything you have learned once you face real life problems – Devin May 25 '16 at 15:39
  • YOu are asking us to do your homework? :) Regardless, this question is simply to broad to be answered other than saying "it depends entirely on the project". – DA01 May 25 '16 at 18:39
  • @DA01 I should probably clear this up. This wasn't homework. The instructor presented them as a thinking activity. – PythonNewb May 26 '16 at 2:08
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Under what circumstances would you NOT want a clean, sleek and minimalist website design?

Both questions have one target at the end and that is the Users. It highly depends on they type of users of your website and their willingness to change. Here are two good examples:

A) Wikipedia:

It is a highly content oriented website and the design is almost the same since a very long time. Why didn't they think of changing the design? If you look at the list of contributors and even everyday users, they are all aged people who are too used to the features of the website that if you ask them if they would like to use a new minimalist Wikipedia - they will say NO, mainly because they are not ready to change.

B) GMail:

If you remember the basic web version of GMail you will understand how far it has come in terms of keeping it clean and minimalist. But, even today they had to preserve all design options such as: Show me the basic GMail, classic view etc. because they don't want to lose any type of users.

Google launched Inbox back in 2014 but even today it has been placed as a option in GMail for users to try and continue using it or switch back to the older version. What it means is GMail is changing but they also keeping the not ready to change people active with their preferred option available.

In 2010 the social bookmarking site Digg.com launched a website redesign that led to a 26% loss in web traffic. The site updates alienated loyal users who found the redesign so off-putting that many left and never returned.

Don’t Do A Redesign! Learn Why Evolution Beats Revolution


Under what circumstances would you want a clean, sleek and minimalist design?

A) Twitter / WhatsApp / Spotify:

The users of these websites and apps are mostly tech savvy and every new upgrade or design change will give them the WOW feeling (considering the design is reducing clutter).

10 tell-tale signs that your website may need a redesign

  • list of contributors and even everyday users, they are all aged people . Sorry, I took a quick look to the list and what I suspected was confirmed: most contributors are on the 30-45 y.o. range , far from aged, unless you're a teenager. As for users, I know for a fact my teenage daughters use it every day for school homework. Also, I don't consider Wikipedia or Gmail "not clean", they're ver clean for their purpose. Which is one of the reasons why the OP question doesn't make any sense: perceived subjective aesthetics over functionality . Triple WOW – Devin May 25 '16 at 16:34
  • @Devin Do you think the question is unanswerable? – PythonNewb May 26 '16 at 2:17
  • with the available information, yes – Devin May 26 '16 at 3:45
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"the instructor said that extremely good answers will consider both the perspective of the web developer AND the perspective of a user"

-- ignoring the possible differentiation between the "web designer" and the "web developer", who might have some clashes of interest --

I am wondering what kind of "web designer perspective" should be part of the answer. Everything I can think of only coincidentally helps users, like

  • show off some parallax, or video, or whatever-is-new skills just for fun
  • follow recent trends to be on the safe side
  • repeat something because it's quicker

In my view, the "extremely good answer" will concentrate on the user and the company running the website, because the website is about the relation between these two. If the company wants to sell baroque retro gadgets, a clean, sleek, minimalist website is out of the question regardless of which web designer is hired.

A User Experience Designer might individually avoid "Dark Design Patterns", but other than such professional ethics, the UXD should suggest only designs which fit the user-company relation.

Or am I missing something here?

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