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Simply Minimalism

Sharon and I were talking about what is “good design” these days and she brought up the idea of minimalism—especially interesting because it is something I had already been thinking about myself. When I look around or look at the latest and greatest websites, I see a common thread—over design and too much “stuff.” As a strategy and development heavy firm, we do a lot of design but it is often not what we are known for. This sometimes bothers me as the “lead designer” of our team, but when I actually think about it more fully, it speaks to our style—keep things simple and do not over design. This is also pragmatic looking from the development side of things, which is always a consideration since we cannot design in a bubble around here.

There is a beauty in design that is simple, thoughtful and easy to interact with. I read a blurb by one of our east coast competitors and they described their work as “practical and delightful to use.” They are focused more on mobile apps than us so this definitely makes sense for them, but the description rang very true for the work we do as well. I do not know if I would call some of our sites “delightful” but I would call them authentic to their organization’s brand, personality and mission, and most importantly, easy –to-use for their visitors. Our goal is always to have it feel like we were never there and I would argue that the best design feels so right you just don’t really notice it.

Which brings me back to this idea of minimalist design. Minimalist does not mean lacking color, beauty or interesting layouts, but it does mean that we ask ourselves often, “How can I make this more simple and easy to use?” 

Val Neumark Mickela - director of strategic initiatives & education, founder, headshot

Val Neumark

Val is a brand strategist, educator, facilitator and coach focused on using communications, design-thinking and technology as vehicles to advance equity. Through partnerships and collaborations, Val endeavors to co-design anti-racist, anti-oppressive spaces and tools that facilitate strategic-thinking, community building and sustainable growth for non-profits and social impact organizations.

Val has a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Arts & Media from University of California San Diego and a Master's Degree in Education from Pepperdine University. A 2016 recipient of Pepperdine University's inaugural 40 under 40 Award. In their free time Val plays soccer, loves to hike, watch baseball and read Mia Mayhem books with their daughter.