If I would like to say that I like to play around with simple, not overly-complex, sometimes even bare things, should I say I like to play around with simplicity or with minimalism?

Background: This is to be used as introductory wording to my website, whose design goal is to be as simple as possible while conveying all the information that a personal website should convey.

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    What do the dictionaries tell you? Why do you think simplicity/minimalism are or are not suitable? – coleopterist Sep 18 '12 at 2:56
  • @coleopterist: It's not that I think they are not suitable... I would only like to know if one is particularly more suitable than other for this case. – Miguel Sep 18 '12 at 3:19

Minimalism is a technical term: ": a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity".

Simplicity is merely a noun that isn't necessarily technical: "1 : the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded; 2 : a : lack of subtlety or penetration : innocence, naiveté; b : folly, silliness 3 : freedom from pretense or guile : candor 4 a : directness of expression : clarity; b : restraint in ornamentation : austerity"

This kind of question is easy enough to answer by yourself if you use the dictionary to look up the meaning of the words you want to choose between.

Simplicity is probably the better term in this case.

J.R. & jwpat7 make some excellent points in their answers. I agree with both of them.


Huizhe has mentioned some meanings of minimalism and simplicity.

Regarding your question «Should I say I like to play around with “simplicity” or with “minimalism”», I suggest you instead consider describing your design goal via words like clean (see sense 5) and elegant (“Characterised by minimalism and intuitiveness while preserving exactness and precision”). Also see terms suggested in A word for something that is both useful and beautiful.

Note, saying “I like to play around” may give an amateur tone to your webpage; if that matters, you might instead refer to “developing experience with” or “experimenting with” or “reviewing” or “developing” or “exploring new ground in” whatever the topic is. If after you write your introduction you have several specific problems with it or questions on how to handle part of it, consider posting at Writers.

  • I really like elegant in this context. – Gorpik Sep 18 '12 at 10:55

As I think about the two words, I regard minimalism as simplicity taken to an extreme.

As for which word is better, that's probably simplicity. Minimalism suggests that something might be regarded as overly bare, however, which is why I think simplicity is a better option most of the time. Still, this is highly dependent on context.

I like simplicity in website design. It connotes easy-to-navigate web pages, free from unnecessary clutter.

I appreciate minimalism in a site intended to be accessed from a mobile device. It shows the website's developers are sensitive to the fact that I might have a quota for the amount of data I access.

As a side note, I concur with what jwpat7 said above: I don't think you want to use the words play around. You could use experiment with (or, more informally, dabble in) if you this is something you do only on occasion. On the other hand, if these are design principles that you strive for as a general rule, you could say, "My goal is to infuse elegant simplicity into every webpage," or something like that.

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