Reducing Complexity as a New Trend

The design is constantly improving, but the most obvious changes are noticeable in the interfaces of the websites and mobile applications developed over the past few years. Big and bold headings, clear icons – all of these techniques are aimed at simplifying the visuals. What are the features of reducing complexity? Why is it a new trend among professional UX/UI design agencies? This article will tell you about it.

Reducing complexity: what does it mean?

Over the past few years, big brands and local businesses have been moving away from vibrant and rich colors and lots of complimentary details to monochrome color palettes and clean web design. Striving for minimalism simplifies sites and applications, making their interface more user-friendly.

But reducing complexity is a little different. While this trend is also aimed at simplifying design, it is not exactly the same. You can determine that the interface was developed based on this trend by the following characteristics:

  •  Large headings in bold
  •  Simple icons
  •  Lack of color

It may seem that only a few sites are created according to this trend. But this is not the case. Many big brands have reduced the complexity of the interface in 2019-2020.

Trendy Apps

Study these examples, and you will see how large brands use reducing complexity designs for their products. 

Airbnb

Airbnb is the world’s largest short-term rental service. Founded in 2008, this company has united millions of travelers around the world, and today Airbnb is used by residents from 191 countries around the world. Such a wide audience for the service is the reason why the company strives in every possible way to reduce the complexity of its website and interface to make them more convenient for each user.

The last major design change for Airbnb came in April 2016. Then the company simplified the interface of the mobile application, getting rid of background images and unnecessary colors. The font was made larger, and only the necessary icons were left on the display. Although the design has been simplified, it has become more memorable.

Instagram

Instagram is the largest social network for posting photos, and it became especially active after it was bought by Facebook in April 2012. Today, the total number of active Instagram users is approaching one and a half billion.

The last redesign of the app took place in mid-2019, but important changes started to happen in 2016. Instagram began to simplify the interface, making it easier to use. 

If in the previous version the emphasis was on dark blue and gray, in the new one only white remains. Previously, the interface seemed to be cluttered, which made it difficult to use the application. Reducing complexity made the functionality understandable to anyone who wants to create an Instagram account and share photos with followers.

Unlike Airbnb, many media outlets wrote about the redesign of Instagram, since the new version simplified not only the application interface but also the logo. Until 2016, the Polaroid OneStep camera was taken as a basis. Now the logo has become “flat”, but the main elements – the silhouette of the camera and the rainbow – are preserved.

Apple Music

Apple Music is a streaming service for listening to music on iOS devices. The first version of the application was launched in 2015, but already a year later the company announced its redesign. The service in iOS 10 differs in many ways from the previous one.

Reducing the complexity of the application has made it easier to use. The appearance has completely changed. Album covers and individual tracks are now larger, the font is thicker, and the background is completely white. Navigation has been greatly simplified in the updated version of the service.

What will reduced complexity bring us?

The trend of decreasing complexity will lead to the fact that many applications and websites will become similar to one another. This new trend was positively assessed by well-known web designers, therefore, many smaller companies are already trying to emulate the success of Instagram or Apple Music and simplify their services.

But moving away from saturated colors and thin fonts only suggests that the design is progressing. The emergence and development of this trend will lead to the creation of a convenient user interface.

How to reduce complexity?

If you want to follow the trend, you should follow a few rules:

  1. Stop using many different colors or choose one as an accent. Leave the rest of the elements in black and white.

  2. Make big headlines. Even the font that already seems large is worth increasing.

  3. Add more white space.

  4. Come up with a striking logo. If you want to make the application stand out from the rest, it is better to add colors to the icon. So it will definitely catch your eye.

  5. But the main thing is to remember the user. You don’t have to stick to all the rules and try to completely reduce complexity, as this can make the interface less understandable.