Simple and flat. It sounds more like a coffee. Or perhaps a beginners obstacle course. But it’s actually a continued design trend sweeping across the net that strips everything back to basics. To an almost print level of design.
Flat design is an aesthetically pleasing way of displaying a website to ensure it focusses on putting your content front and centre. It strips away all of the noise, the 3D elements, shadows and gradients, to just leave behind the essentials.
It could be called minimalistic. It’s clean, simple and can be quite beautiful.
You won’t find any pixel perfect shadows and of course no skeuomorphism, which focusses on creating designs that are strongly realistic. For example the calculator app on your iPhone.
This can hamper designers by making sure they stick to certain restrictions. Flat design allows them to focus on creating cleaner graphics that are easier to use.
It seems that people are becoming tired of websites and apps trying to emulate the real thing. There is a growing desire to strip things back to the essentials.
The flat design also borrows from the a grid system that has been made popular by websites like Pinterest and is becoming a natural way for users to interface with the web as they shift from desktop based browsing to mobile devices.
One of the best places to see the flat design in action is within Microsoft’s design of Windows 8. They have done away with skeuomorphism completely and even adopted a non-uniform grid system for their operating systems interface.
This adoption has even been replicated somewhat in Apple’s release of iOS7. In an attempt to react to the growing trend.
Whilst there is no empirical evidence to suggest which style of design is preferred by users, or which is better for user experience. It is suggested that the flat design is preferable for an internet that is moving ever more to a content lead medium.
Ironically, representing a shift in style towards a form of media it is effectively killing: print.
Whilst the design itself is simple and clean, it’s not without potential issues. As the designs creep ever more towards a minimalist appearance, there is a real danger that they may go too far, causing users to become lost. Unable to effectively navigate their way around a site.
This could cause hell for data analytics as users unintentionally click on random links and content.
Could it also be that this is just a phase where designers are rejecting what has long been the status-quo for the sake of coming up with something different? If so, might we see designs having to change again in the near future when the trend dies, a costly process for those committing whole heartedly now.
Like anything, we believe the best results are achieved with careful consideration of your goals. If flat design helps you better achieve your aims then by all means use it. But don’t disregard skeuomorphism completely if it can still help your design meet the requirements of the user.
Check out some simple icons on our site: Target Ink
Matt Neve July 13th, 2014
Interesting information, this is one of the trends in design that I hope will stay for a long time, it makes sense to keep design as simple yet informative as possible - after all that is the essence of design. Thanks for sharing Target Ink.
David July 11th, 2014
A breath of fresh air - I am all for simple, clear, clean presentation. I want to understand something as quickly as possible and not be distracted by "clever" design. So saying I think it is clever to realize the need for simple communications. I like it.
Paul Malby July 11th, 2014
These guys really know how to deliver a message, sell your site and optimise your audience. Just shows they have their finger on the pulse - Simple & Effective! - A Great company to have working for your company.