In every designer’s career there will be a client who asks for a website like Apple. Everyone aspires to have a strong digital presence, so it’s no surprise that we find refuge under the umbrella of those who do it best.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying simple, flat, and minimal design. But simple, flat, and minimal is not the answer to every question in the universe.
Apple, Google, and the other successful tech companies have given us a manual of best practices – a hierarchy of information, clear and organised navigation, high-quality photography, and a call to action fenced in by negative space and white backgrounds.
What we tend to forget is that Apple and Google are successful because they design with their own customers in mind, not because they follow a trend. Different audiences respond to different stimuli. Apple’s website is a solution to their business problems; it speaks to their audience. You need to do the same – speak to your own audience in the style they prefer, not in Apple’s. You likely have different goals than Apple does, so why would you copy their implementation?
A successful product is not one that follows a recipe, but one that empathises with customers’ needs and relates to them. And that can only happen if you understand who you’re creating products for. Reality check: it’s unlikely to be Apple’s customers.
Landing pages with simple visuals often perform well, and so do websites with a ‘typical’ layout. It is tempting to copy this, I get it. But it would be a mistake to ignore the individual character of your audience.
There is no optimal recipe for designing a website. You could have things popping left and right as long as it’s intentional and designed with your customers in mind. Would Apple approve? No. Do they have to? No – because their customers are not your customers. Their business challenges are not your challenges. And what the Minimalism Bandwagon thinks of your website shouldn’t be a factor in your choice.
The goal is never to design a popular and trendy website. No one wakes up in the morning thinking they need to spend $20k on a new site so Awwwards can feature them. Websites are tools; they solve problems. That’s where you should start from. Who are your customers and what is the problem you’re solving for them?
Whether minimalism and a grayscale colour scheme solves that problem should be left up to designers to figure out. Saying “I want something like Apple’s website” is expecting the solution to someone else’s problem to fix yours. It’s expecting an umbrella to work in a monsoon in the Philippines just because it does well in a London drizzle. It won’t work, you’ll waste your money, and you’ll look like a fool. Do it the right way – start with your customer and your problem.