Some Thoughts on Flat Design
Why Simple is Better
Overly involved typography and complex graphics are a thing of the past if you want to stay up to date with the trends of web design. We’re talking about flat design here and how every UX/UI Designer and their mother are incorporating it into their latest work.
So what is Flat Design?
Well for starters it’s flat—go figure. No muss, no fuss. The overall look is simple and its icon and UI elements are smooth and without any extra effects that create “artificial” dimension. That means getting rid of beveled edges, gradients, shadows, and reflections—pretty much anything that creates a 3D look. With flat, you're going for an entirely two dimensional look; completely uniform throughout.
Here’s the difference in case you were wondering, skeuomorphism v flat:
Some words that come to mind: minimal, crisp, clean-- so stay away from the extras, Flat Design doesn't have time for that. Instead, focus on the basics:
Color- Flat Design is all about the use of bold hues and vivid color. Flat can be conveyed through black and white but you will get greater impact from color blocking and using 2-4 corresponding colors. Color choice is especially important in flat, because when you’re using flat icons, having a primary and secondary color will be one of the main identifiers that help the user recognize to click.
Typography- A simple font throughout the website, preferably one that’s sans serif, looks great when designing for flat. The type should go along harmoniously with the design scheme. Some people have been sucessful with using one decorative font highlighted with simple typeface for the body. See here and here.
Simplicity- White or negative can be a great design tool. We’ve been seeing scroll-type flat websites a lot recently where there is just simple text and images combined with lots of space. See here. This helps a great deal with marketing websites when you want to convey a message as clearly as possible; all of the negative space adds value to your product.
When to use it?
Even though it’s popping up everywhere, doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for all of your design needs. You will most commonly see flat in professional portfolio pages and company marketing web sites. Flat Design is especially good for start ups. Its minimalistic nature is great for when you are trying to convey a product because the design elements don’t detract away from the merchandise.
You also can’t beat the loading time when using Flat Design. In the age of the “I need it and I needed it yesterday” attitude, many people rarely stay on a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Since the graphics are so simple in flat, it takes a lot less time to load and gets more eyes on your page in return.
Websites and apps who rocked it:
Both the Taasky website and mobile application are completely flat. They picked a great color scheme and a very minimalistic design. However, while the simplicity of the website speeds up the loading time, the interactive game at the bottom of the screen causes the main landing page to glitch.
Peek is a calendar application for iPhone. The app has a ton of great features and is completely flat to go with the new ios7 software—happy colors and all. Someone was really thinking about UX when designing their marketing website. The transitions are seamless and the video on the home screen doesn’t slow down the process at all. Bonus: it’s completely responsive, god I love this page.
House Kitchen’s website is all in French so we didn’t understand much but according to Google Translate they offer culinary services to homes and businesses, as well as great graphics throughout their website. Designed by French UX Designer, Vincent Tantardini, the website is not only completely flat and colorful but also responsive.
While we admit that this is one of our own designs, we wanted to give an example that shows the shift to icon based design. This is largely a result of mobile users growing, but we see this becoming more of a trend as Flat Design and Mobile Specific Design gain popularity.
There has been a lot of speculation as to whether Flat Design is here to stay or if it just another web design fad. With big companies like Microsoft, Google and of course iOs7 incorporating it into their tech, I think its safe to say that Flat Design isn't making a guest star appereance. It's being utilized so much now because it signifies modernity and style but once it catches on more, designers will start searching for new trends to keep up with the ever changing world of design. We're looking forward to see what they come up with.
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