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The minimalist blog

July 3, 2017

Let’s declutter. Simplify. Clear out. Focus.

Minimalism isn’t just for the real world. Blogging has embraced simpler aesthetics, too.

What does minimalism mean when it comes to blogging? Do Facebook Instant Articles, Accelerated Mobile Pages and Apple News format count as minimalist? What about responsive themes that handle desktop, tablet and phone screens with a flexible design?

I think about design a lot. We all do, usually when it fails us, oh say, for example, looking at an article on a mobile screen. Because, it’s just … terrible.

sample mobile page

What good is “content marketing” if the content is so hard to see?

Even desktop versions can taunt us with pop-ups, gigantic headers, ads that foul things up behind the scenes with JavaScript, persistent navigation/sharing bars and antagonistic design (to favor advertisers over users).

No wonder so many bloggers are considering and implementing minimalist templates.

Zen Habits post

Zen Habits has been doing minimalism long before it became trendy. Look at the post above: no ads, no color, one font, no comments, no images(!), short paragraphs, simple headline. Even the URL is clutter-free: zenhabits.net/missions.

That site tells us a lot about blog minimalism beyond the design. Focus on a single idea. Write a clear, succinct headline. Use simple, easy-to-grasp sentences.

Putting a minimalist blog together requires two goals in every aspect: Removing everything that doesn’t belong; and keeping focus on the mission, not on what could also be added. They seem like easy tasks, but they require a ruthlessness against bloat and ego.

iPodIt’s like one of the early versions of the iPod: five buttons, one click wheel, one hold switch. That’s all the controls needed to pick an album, a song or a place in the song. Getting to that version required discipline at Apple to keep the interface as simple as possible.

Can we keep that up every day on our blog? We start with an uncluttered design. We have no plugins except for the extremely necessary (Akismet anti-spam, SEO).

We add posts that have a straightforward layout, good readability and clear point of view. If we use an image, it’s sized as small as needed. We stick to a simple publishing schedule: Mondays and Thursdays. We spend much more time editing and paring down than we do writing.

We make it easy for new visitors to find out more information about the site and how to contact us.

That about do it? Anything we’re missing?

Minimalism is a trend and also a state of mind. It’s a love for the reader so deep that we’re willing to take extra steps to make it appear clean and approachable. That means diligence against adding one more thing, and a merciless attitude to taking things out.

Expert Marie Kondo has guided many people in making life easier through this decluttering process. We could be happier bloggers if we took a similar approach to our beloved sites.

• • •

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