Brutalist Design for Websites

brutalist web design

Frustrated exploring the endless sea of vibrant, highly-embellished web designs? You’re not alone—I’ve been there too and discovered that sometimes less is indeed more. This article will be your detailed guide to brutalist web design, a minimalist approach focusing on raw functionality over aesthetics—a philosophy originating from the French term “béton brut”, meaning raw concrete.

Intrigued? Read on as we delve into the bold, intriguing world where simplicity reigns supreme.

Key Takeaways

  • Brutalist web design is a minimalist approach that prioritizes functionality and raw simplicity over aesthetics, with an emphasis on HTML rather than CSS or JavaScript.
  • The roots of brutalist web design can be traced back to architectural brutalism in the 1950s, and it has found a place in the digital realm as well.
  • Brutalism differs from minimalist web design by focusing more on efficiency and effectiveness rather than just simplicity and aesthetics.
  • Key principles of brutalist web design include achieving goals with minimal elements, projecting strength through structure, understanding that effective design doesn’t always mean attractive design, and achieving transparency through simplicity.

Understanding Brutalism in Web Design

To dive into the world of brutalism in web design, you first need to grasp its core concept – functionality triumphs over form. As an offshoot of its architectural roots back in the 1950s, Brutalist websites personify a minimalist approach and raw aesthetics that prioritize utility above all else.

The design style that once served as a practical solution for post-war Europe reconstruction has now found its place in the digital realm and is cherished for its unique perspective on user experience.

The crux of brutalist web design lies heavily on HTML more than CSS or JavaScript – giving priority to stark efficiency over flashy elements. Traits such as system fonts, underlined hyperlinks, solid color backgrounds, geometric shapes with sharp edges characterize these sites.

Untreated images and open navigation give them a no-nonsense appeal wrapped up in monochromatic colors or select web-safe palettes. It’s far from your conventional pretty interface but trust me; it’s effectiveness is praiseworthy!

The History of Brutalist Web Design

The roots of brutalist web design can be traced back to the architectural brutalism that originated in the 1950s, a style characterized by its raw and minimalist elements. Unlike traditional forms, it underscored functionality over aesthetics, enabling economies to rebuild inexpensively during post-WWII Europe.

However, as the 1970s approached, this austere approach faced criticism due to an association with harshness and perceived state control — factors leading to its rapid decline.

Interestingly enough, the ethos of brutalism echoed within the nascent days of internet design. Limited technology enforced simplicity with function at the helm once more. Websites were an amalgamation of system fonts, underlined hyperlinks, monochromatic color schemes – often dictated by HTML rather than CSS or JavaScript – and stark geometric components on solid backgrounds.

Despite evolving tech capabilities facilitating more visually appealing designs later on, those early principles remained firmly embedded within a niche but resilient sector: Brutalist Web Design.

Embracing these anti-establishment origins allows us today’s designers not only to appreciate our history but also recapture some authenticity lost amid modern day digital sophistication. Offering users straightforward experiences devoid of unnecessary embellishments sends a robust message about valuing substance over style — just like our pioneering forefathers did six decades ago.

Brutalist vs. Minimalist Web Design: A Comparison

Brutalist web design focuses on raw functionality, while minimalist design emphasizes simplicity and aesthetics. Discover the key differences between these two styles and how they impact user experience.

Let’s dive in!


In the realm of brutalist web design, simplicity reigns supreme. This is not about being plain or lackluster but stripping away the frills to focus on essential components – functionality and user-friendliness.

The emphasis is placed firmly on HTML and minimal use of CSS and JavaScript, showcasing a direct contrast to elaborate designs favored by contemporary designers. With less clogging up the interface, brutalist websites typically load faster, providing users with a smooth browsing experience that values their time.

Furthermore, this minimalist approach often results in more accessible sites since they are easier for assistive technologies to interpret. So while ‘simplicity’ may sound like an uninspiring design principle, it’s instrumental in shaping effective brutalist websites that command attention amidst digital noise through raw text and system fonts rather than flashy graphics or animations.


In brutalist web design, aesthetics take a backseat to functionality and simplicity. Unlike other design styles that prioritize beautiful visuals, brutalism embraces rawness and simplicity in its aesthetic approach.

This means you won’t find flashy graphics or elaborate animations on a brutalist website. Instead, the focus is on delivering a straightforward user experience with clean lines, minimal use of color, and sharp edges.

By stripping away unnecessary visual elements, brutalist websites convey a sense of honesty and authenticity while prioritizing efficiency and effectiveness. It’s about getting straight to the point without any frills or distractions.


The relevance of brutalist web design lies in its ability to break free from traditional aesthetics and create a unique user experience. In a digital landscape saturated with sleek and minimalist designs, brutalism offers a refreshing departure that catches the attention of users in their 30s who are seeking something different.

It taps into our desire for authenticity and rawness by embracing imperfections and unpolished design elements. By stripping away unnecessary frills and focusing on the core message or functionality, brutalist websites deliver information efficiently while making a bold statement.

This approach resonates with smarter individuals who appreciate innovation and unconventional approaches to design. Whether it’s through clashing color palettes, minimal CSS, or raw textures, brutalist web design captivates its audience by challenging norms and offering an alternative perspective.

Key Principles of Brutalism in Web Design

Brutalist web design focuses on achieving goals with minimal elements, projecting strength and stability through structure, prioritizing effective design over attractiveness, and emphasizing transparency through simplicity.

Achieving Goals with the Bare Minimum

In brutalist web design, achieving goals with the bare minimum is a key principle. This means stripping away unnecessary elements to focus solely on what is essential for a website’s purpose and functionality.

By eliminating clutter and distractions, users are able to navigate more easily and find the information they need without any unnecessary frills. With minimal design elements, such as raw text, solid color backgrounds, and sharp edges, brutalist websites create a sense of simplicity and efficiency.

This approach results in faster loading times and a straightforward user experience that appeals to smarter people in their 30s who value practicality over unnecessary embellishments.

Projecting Strength and Stability Through Structure

In brutalist web design, one of the key principles is projecting strength and stability through structure. This means that the layout and organization of a website should convey a sense of solidity and reliability to users.

Unlike more polished and sleek designs, brutalist websites often feature bold geometric components, sharp edges, and solid color backgrounds. These elements not only contribute to the raw aesthetic but also create a visual language that exudes strength and stability.

By prioritizing functionality over aesthetics, brutalism in web design ensures that the structure of a website serves its purpose effectively while providing users with a straightforward and reliable experience.

Effective Design Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Attractive

In the world of web design, it’s important to remember that effective design doesn’t necessarily mean attractive design. This is especially true when it comes to brutalist web design. While many might find the raw and minimalist aesthetic of brutalist websites unappealing, it’s crucial to understand that attractiveness isn’t the main goal here.

Instead, brutalism focuses on functionality and meeting user needs with the bare minimum elements necessary. By stripping away unnecessary frills and distractions, brutalist web designs prioritize usability and efficiency.

So, while these designs may not be conventionally attractive, they’re designed with a purpose – to provide users with a straightforward and seamless browsing experience.

Transparency Through Simplicity

In brutalist web design, transparency is achieved through simplicity. By stripping away unnecessary elements and focusing on the bare minimum, brutalist websites communicate a sense of honesty and authenticity.

The use of raw text, system fonts, and underlined hyperlinks enhances the straightforwardness of the design. Additionally, monochromatic color palettes and solid backgrounds create a clean and uncluttered look that allows users to easily navigate through the content.

One important aspect of transparency in brutalism is its emphasis on effective communication without distractions. By removing extraneous details and focusing on essential information, these websites deliver a clear message to users.

This approach ensures that visitors can quickly grasp what they need to know without being overwhelmed by clutter or excessive visual effects.

Moreover, simplicity in design promotes efficiency and ease-of-use for users. With fewer distractions, individuals can concentrate on the core content or function of a website. This streamlined approach not only improves user experience but also helps achieve goals more effectively.

Case Studies: Examples of Brutalist Web Design

Explore inspiring examples of brutalist web design with case studies that showcase the raw power and unique aesthetic of these unconventional websites.

56 Digital

As I delve into the world of brutalist web design, one standout example that caught my attention is 56 Digital. This website serves as a comprehensive resource, offering an array of case studies and examples that showcase the power and impact of brutalism in web design.

The platform features interviews with notable figures from various creative disciplines, including artists, designers, musicians, and professionals in technology. It also highlights events and exhibitions relevant to the art and design industries worldwide.

With its diverse range of content and deep insights into the minds behind brutalist web design, 56 Digital stands as a valuable source for anyone interested in this captivating aesthetic approach.


I am excited to share with you one of the prominent examples of brutalist web design – A2-TYPE. A2-TYPE showcases how functionality triumphs over visual aesthetics in creating an impactful online presence.

Their website focuses on delivering information effectively through sharp edges, solid color backgrounds, and geometric components. By embracing simplicity and efficiency in their design, A2-TYPE finds beauty in unexpected places and creates a memorable user experience.

This case study highlights the versatility of brutalist web development and demonstrates how major brands are embracing this style to make a bold statement online.

Alicia Keys

I was surprised to discover that Alicia Keys’ website is not associated with any case studies or examples of brutalist web design. However, it’s worth noting that brutalist web development is a trend embraced by major brands and designers across various industries.

The style itself allows for interpretation, drawing inspiration from the simplicity and raw materials often seen in brutalist architecture. Alicia Keys’ website may utilize other design principles or aesthetics that align more closely with her brand image and target audience.

Regardless, it’s interesting to see how different websites embrace this unique approach to web design.

Apelido & Apelido

One website that exemplifies brutalist web design is Apelido & Apelido. This minimalist yet striking website features a raw and unpolished design, with its primary focus on functionality rather than aesthetics.

The site utilizes simple system fonts, underlined hyperlinks, and solid color backgrounds to create a visually impactful experience. By stripping away unnecessary embellishments, Apelido & Apelido embodies the principles of brutalism in web design: achieving goals with the bare minimum and projecting strength through simplicity.


Balenciaga, a renowned luxury fashion brand, is a perfect example of how brutalist web design can be incorporated to make a bold statement. Their website showcases traits commonly associated with brutalism, such as underlined hyperlinks and monochromatic color schemes.

By prioritizing functionality over aesthetics, Balenciaga aligns with the essence of brutalist design. This intentional choice allows them to project strength and stability while appealing to a younger generation that appreciates unconventional and raw design approaches.

The use of elements like raw text, system fonts, and solid color backgrounds further exemplifies their commitment to the minimalist principles of brutalist web design.

Drudge Report

The Drudge Report is a prime example of brutalist web design in action. Its website features raw text, underlined hyperlinks, and solid color backgrounds, all characteristic elements of this design style.

Functionality takes precedence over aesthetics, with minimal use of CSS and JavaScript contributing to quick page load times. The emphasis here is on delivering information and functionality to users, conveying transparency and simplicity through its raw and minimalist aesthetic.

As one of the case studies on brutalist web design for websites, the Drudge Report showcases how major brands have embraced this trend.

Seth’s Blog

As part of my research on brutalist web design, I came across Seth’s Blog, which serves as a fantastic showcase of examples in this unique style. Seth’s Blog features a range of websites that embrace the ruggedness and lack of concern for comfort or ease often associated with brutalism.

It’s fascinating to see how these sites prioritize functionality over visual aesthetics, proving that effective design doesn’t necessarily mean attractive design. The blog also includes interviews with artists, designers, and creatives who discuss various topics related to brutalist design.

With such insightful content and inspiring examples, Seth’s Blog is definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in exploring the world of brutalist web design.

The Pros and Cons of Brutalist Web Design

In the world of web design, Brutalism is a style that comes with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s highlight them:

Pros of Brutalist Web Design:

1. Uniqueness: Brutalist websites are easily memorable due to their distinctive nature, helping brands to stand out in a saturated digital world.

2. Maximized Effectiveness: Because Brutalism emphasizes on function over form, these websites often deliver information more efficiently.

3. Lower Costs and Resources: Brutalist websites rely more on HTML than CSS and JavaScript, which can significantly reduce development time and costs.

4. Faster Loading Times: With less reliance on heavy graphics and scripts, Brutalist websites typically load much faster, providing a seamless user experience.

5. Transparency: Brutalism’s raw and unpolished design elements provide a sense of honesty and transparency in design.

Cons of Brutalist Web Design:

1. Not Always Appealing: Currently, Brutalist websites are not for everyone’s taste. These sites can often come across as harsh and cold, turning some potential users off.

2. Poor Compatibility: Because they rely heavily on HTML and minimal CSS, Brutalist websites can sometimes encounter compatibility issues with some browsers or devices.

3. Limited Design Features: Brutalism’s minimalist approach limits the usage of multimedia and interactive features that could enhance user engagement.

4. Risk of Over-Simplification: Brutalist design’s focus on simplicity could result in a lack of depth or complexity in the content.

5. Potential User Confusion: The raw, unadorned style of Brutalist design can cause confusion among users accustomed to more traditional, intuitive web design.

Understanding these pros and cons can provide a clearer picture of how Brutalism may fit into your web design strategy, depending on your brand’s unique needs and goals.

Key Features of Brutalist Web Design

Brutalist web design is characterized by clashing color palettes, minimal CSS, unconventional navigation, raw and unpolished design elements, and repeating patterns. Discover how these features create unique and impactful user experiences.

Clashing Color Palette

In brutalist web design, a clashing color palette is used to make a bold statement and grab the user’s attention. This technique involves combining colors that wouldn’t traditionally be seen together, resulting in a visually striking and memorable experience.

The deliberate use of contrasting hues challenges conventional design norms and adds an element of surprise to the overall aesthetic. By embracing unconventional color combinations, brutalist websites create a unique visual impact that resonates with smarter individuals in their 30s who appreciate innovative and boundary-pushing design choices.

So if you’re looking for a website that breaks free from traditional color schemes, consider exploring the world of brutalist web design where clashes become captivating.

Minimal CSS

In brutalist web design, minimal CSS is a key feature that sets it apart from other styles. Unlike traditional web design, where CSS is used to add visual elements and effects, brutalism takes a more stripped-down approach.

Instead of relying on complex CSS styling, brutalist websites prioritize simplicity and functionality. This means using raw text, system fonts, and basic HTML components to convey the message effectively.

By minimizing the use of CSS, these websites load faster and are more efficient in terms of resources. So if you’re looking for a no-frills approach to web design that focuses on usability over fancy visuals, minimal CSS is an essential element of brutalism.

Navigation & Information Hierarchy

In brutalist web design, traditional navigation and information hierarchy principles are challenged. Instead of following a standard layout with clear menus and hierarchies, brutalist websites often opt for unconventional navigation methods that keep users engaged and guessing.

Information is presented in a raw and unfiltered manner, without the typical organization seen in minimalist or corporate websites. This approach appeals to those who value transparency and authenticity online, as it breaks away from the polished aesthetics of mainstream web design.

By prioritizing functionality over visual appeal, brutalist navigation encourages users to explore and interact with the content in unexpected ways. It’s an innovative approach that reflects the core principles of brutalism: honesty, simplicity, and efficiency.

Raw and Unpolished Design Elements

In brutalist web design, raw and unpolished design elements are key to creating a distinctive and impactful user experience. This style embraces imperfections and rejects the polished aesthetics of traditional web design.

Instead of sleek and glossy visuals, brutalist websites opt for sharp edges, solid color backgrounds, and geometric components that give a sense of boldness and honesty. By embracing this raw aesthetic, brutalist websites challenge the norms of what is considered visually appealing in web design, focusing on functionality rather than perfection.

This approach allows for a unique and memorable browsing experience that resonates with users who appreciate authenticity and creativity.

Repeating patterns

Repeating patterns are a striking and defining feature of brutalist web design. Inspired by the geometrical shapes often found in brutalist architecture, these patterns create a visually impactful user experience that captivates the viewer.

Websites that embrace brutalism often showcase a mix of bold aesthetics like postmodernism, minimalism, or grunge, using repeating patterns to reflect the raw and exposed nature of this design style.

By incorporating these patterns throughout their layouts, brutalist websites stand out from the crowd and make a bold statement. These repetitive motifs add an element of visual interest and draw attention to key elements on the page, creating a memorable experience for users.

What Designers Can Learn From Brutalism

Designers can learn valuable lessons from brutalism, such as the power of simplicity, putting the user’s needs first, finding beauty in unexpected places, and understanding that design doesn’t always have to be aesthetically pleasing.

Discover more about these insights and how they can elevate your web design in our full blog post.

Less is More

In the world of brutalist web design, the philosophy of “less is more” reigns supreme. This means stripping away unnecessary elements and focusing on what truly matters – delivering an efficient and user-friendly experience.

By embracing minimalism, brutalist websites achieve faster loading times and a cleaner aesthetic. This approach challenges traditional design norms by prioritizing functionality over superficial appeal.

In fact, many brands are turning to brutalism as a way to stand out in a cluttered online landscape while minimizing costs and resources. With its focus on simplicity and effectiveness, less really does become more when it comes to brutalist web design.

User’s Needs Come First

As a high-end copywriter, I understand the importance of putting user needs first in web design. When designing a website, it’s crucial to prioritize functionality and usability over aesthetics.

This is especially true in brutalist web design, where simplicity and efficiency are key principles. By focusing on the bare minimum to achieve goals and providing transparent navigation, we ensure that users can easily find what they’re looking for without any unnecessary distractions.

Additionally, by placing user needs at the forefront of our design process, we create an efficient and effective website that serves its purpose seamlessly. Remember, beauty might not always lie in flashy visuals but rather in meeting the user’s expectations efficiently and effectively.

Beauty in Unexpected Places

I find it fascinating how brutalist web design manages to uncover beauty in unexpected places. This approach prioritizes function over aesthetics, creating websites that are raw and minimalist in appearance.

By embracing the bare minimum and focusing on conveying information effectively, brutalist websites can captivate users with their honest and unpretentious design. It’s a reminder that beauty doesn’t always have to be flashy or ornate; sometimes it can be found in the simplicity of a sharp edge or a solid color background.

And while not every brand or purpose may lend itself well to brutalism, there is something refreshing about seeing beauty emerge from unexpected corners of the digital landscape.

Simplicity Equals Efficiency

In brutalist web design, simplicity is not just about aesthetics – it’s also a key driver of efficiency. By stripping away unnecessary elements and focusing on the bare minimum, brutalist websites can load faster and deliver information more efficiently.

Instead of cluttering the user interface with excessive visuals or complex features, brutalism embraces a straightforward approach that prioritizes functionality. This means less time wasted waiting for pages to load and more time spent engaging with the content you actually need.

So if you’re looking for a web design style that values efficiency as much as it does simplicity, then consider embracing the raw power of brutalism.

Integrity in Design

Designing with integrity is a key principle of brutalist web design. It involves being true to the purpose of the website and ensuring that every element serves a specific function. Rather than focusing solely on aesthetics, brutalism prioritizes functionality and usability.

This approach aligns well with the needs and preferences of smarter individuals in their 30s who appreciate transparency, efficiency, and authenticity in digital experiences. By embracing simplicity and avoiding unnecessary embellishments, brutalist design communicates honesty and reliability to users.

This commitment to integrity sets brutalist websites apart from their more visually-focused counterparts, making them ideal for brands that value substance over style.


In conclusion, brutalist web design is a bold and unconventional approach that challenges the norms of traditional web aesthetics. It prioritizes functionality and raw simplicity over flashy visuals, making it perfect for those who value efficiency and user experience.

With its unique principles and unlimited creative possibilities, brutalism continues to push the boundaries of web design and redefine the online landscape. So, whether you love or hate it, there’s no denying that brutalist websites are here to stay as an intriguing alternative in the world of digital design.


1. What is brutalist design for websites?

Brutalist design for websites is a style that embraces raw, unrefined aesthetics and minimalist functionality. It often features simple layouts, bold typography, and stark color schemes.

2. What are the key characteristics of brutalist website design?

Key characteristics of brutalist website design include the use of large and prominent typographic elements, minimalistic layouts with limited navigation options, heavy use of black and white colors or harsh contrasting colors, and an overall stripped-down aesthetic.

3. How does brutalist website design impact user experience?

Brutalist website design can have both positive and negative impacts on user experience. While it may provide a unique visual appeal and make a strong statement, it can also be challenging to navigate due to its unconventional layout and lack of traditional usability features.

4. Is brutalist web design suitable for all types of websites?

No, brutalist web design may not be suitable for all types of websites. It is most commonly seen in artistic portfolios or niche websites looking to create a strong visual impact. For more mainstream or commercial purposes where usability and conversion rates are crucial, other design approaches may be more appropriate.

Brutalist Design for Websites
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