By now it is a widely-acknowledged fact that most familiar aesthetic of modern web design is an aesthetic of minimalism. Recently, though, it has come to my attention that there is a term gaining more prominence which describes the reaction against the non-distinctive minimalism on display in most instances of reflexive web design. That term is “brutalism,” and it seems overly pejorative for a movement that is addressing a very real issue among site owners and web design companies.
Minimalism serves an important function, insofar as it is usually the underpinning for web design that presents people with the information they need in a particularly straightforward way. It is also especially well-suited to the stripped-down browsing experience that people expect when accessing the internet via mobile devices. As we all know, this type of traffic now comprises a majority of all web traffic, and that figure is growing.
However, there is an argument to be made that the obsession with utility and ease of access is making the internet a more boring place. What some people are calling “brutalism” is not necessarily a rejection of the efficiency and flexibility of modern web design. It is simply an effort to make sites stand out in a massive, almost monochromatic internet landscape through the use of web design that is high-contrast, asymmetrical, multi-layered, or otherwise at odds with the expectations of minimalism.
Neither approach to web design is inherently superior to the other, although the term “brutalism” seems to suggest otherwise. When consulting with your local web design company, you should keep your options open at the start, until you’ve compared the benefits of distinctive web design against those of giving people exactly what they have come to expect.