The Last Word on Minimalist Blogging
You could say that I am a minimalist.
Whereas some of my colleagues would drone on and on in court, I could sum it all up in just a few short sentences (much to the appreciation of the judges and is probably a reason for my success).
After becoming a blogger I’ve continued with that tradition.
Having once been a litigator I also learned how to argue both sides of a dispute. Hence, the amoral duality of the profession and a reason why I no longer practice.
So I’m also known as a contrarian blogger (probably thanks to that duality thing). That is not to say I’m necessarily snarky, although admittedly my tongue-in-cheek humor can sometimes get me into trouble.
Today I will be taking a non-traditional look at the so-called minimalist blogging movement. This can include such matters as posting less and brevity amongst other things, but for the purpose of this article I will be primarily discussing blog design.
After studying various minimalist designs I’ve been able to simplify their rhetoric into a basic formula. Minimalists use little or no borders. Instead they like lots of white space around objects and for background color, presumably for the best contrast and separation of content (especially those nice blinking ads).
That’s it in a nutshell. Isn’t it amazing that I could sum it all up in just two sentences, whereas these so-called minimalists can write pages and pages of stuff on the subject. But I digress…
Now using a white background makes sense because it is the easiest to read, and I do it myself with this blog. Lots of white space in and around elements is also a good idea for making it easier to read (separate) the content.
But a problem that I have with minimalist preachers is they can be quite snobby and seem to enjoy lording it over us with their so-called blog tips. They take great pleasure in telling us that if our design is not minimal then the obvious conclusion is ours is cluttered.
They enjoy rubbing our nose in it like the snobby neighbours down the road who look down on our messy homes and our messy kids, our messy cars, our… But what I find ironic about minimalist preachers like Leo Babauta is that they still manage to “clutter” up their blogs with huge splashy pictures and nice blinking ads in their sidebar.
Hmm … now don’t you find that a glaring contradiction? I know that I do.
Of course there’s a very good reason for that. Take away all those pretty pics and you would be left with a very boring looking blog — wouldn’t you?
I’ve often joked that minimalists promote their mantra because they are lacking in coding skills. Of course I had my tongue in my cheek when I said that, but I think there is also some truth to it.
For example, I once used rounded corners on this blog. I got tired of looking at all those square blogs out there, and round was the fad at the time. So I thought I would modernize the look of my blog so to speak and go round.
But admittedly I would probably never do it again because it is a very difficult design to maintain. Just to stretch the blog wider I had to fire up Photoshop and resize the border frame images, and if I use blockquotes or put a large picture in my post it can blow the margins apart. Never again.
In my case I’ve tried to find a balance between minimal and to also clutter up the layout just enough to keep it interesting. I’ve also attempted to show as much content as I can on the home page in order to showcase more of my work.
It seems to be working because I’m noticing readers are spending more time on the blog checking out the content.
Next time around who knows, I might go more minimal, but the moral of this story is beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and fads come and they go.
Here’s a blog tip straight from the Bloke. Nobody really has the final say on best design. What one person might consider minimal, another might consider it sterile, boring and lacking in character.
So the next time some minimalist bully tries to make you feel bad about your blog just tell them to go stuff it and come back again when clutter is in style. You’re already ahead of the game (or behind depending on your perspective of the space-time continuum).
The bottom line is (as always) the best answer to any extremist position is probably a compromise somewhere in between.
So are you a minimalist blogger or is your virtual home cluttered? This is your chance to speak now or forever hold your peace.
P.s.: I hear the 60s are back again — or is it the 70s. I knew I shouldn’t have thrown out those bell-bottoms.
UPDATE: This post was updated since it’s original posting 09-07