Undoubtedly, 2012 was the year of responsiveness in web design; each designer, more or less, was involved in this issue and the result is obvious: nowadays we have websites that are perfectly rendered no matter the device or its operating system. Well, 2013 seems to be year of flat design…it’s true, we are in the middle of the year, but it’s hard to believe that anything else may gain a more important role. Even if flat is the new trend, responsiveness was a necessity while flatness is just a preference. What should you keep in mind is that the association flatness and responsiveness is just a nice combination and not a dependent relationship.
Apple’ design approach was to imitate, as much and as better as possible, the environment- the specialists named this idea skeuomorphism (probably, they use such a complicated name just to confuse the users-just kidding). Due to its success, many designers embraced skeuomorphism and the Internet became the realm of shiny, glossy, flashy items- all these in order to perfectly recreate the reality. As everything in our life, too much isn’t too good and the users became bored with this way of designing.
It wasn’t a big surprise for online giants as Google and Microsoft and they adopted a new style, somehow opposite to skeuomorphism: flat design. I am sure that you enjoyed already some websites based on this style, but to have a clearer idea, here are the main features of flat design.
#1. No gradients, highlights, shadows- nothing to shine
As I already mentioned, flat design removes any idea of three dimensions…everything has only length and width. In addition of that, everything that shines is replaced. There is no flat design that has gradients, highlights or shadows…the idea is to let the content speak for itself.
Recently, a new direction was embraced, especially by Google: almost flat design. It respects the basic features of flat design, but in order to emphasize some capital elements are added some light effects. The results are pretty cool! Below are some examples, enjoy them!
#2. Vivid colors
Having a shiny button isn’t necessarily a bad fact: it’s a modality to attract the eyes of the viewers and it’s quite important in the overall success of a website. The flat design supposes to renounce to these possibilities, therefore the designers must find other solutions. One of the possibilities of catching the viewers’ attention is to use the vivid colors and for a flat design it’s almost a must to use these color combinations.
#3. The typography is “the new king”
Previously, the nice layout designs grabbed the viewers’ attention and somehow the content was put into the shadow. Flat design has the great benefit that gives back to the typography its major role. If you neglected the typography then you should come back to the roots and play smartly with the fonts.
#4. Almost everywhere are boxes
Another common element of flat style is the use of boxes…the prototype is clear: a rectangle with without rounded corners, usually painted in vivid colors and having a message using a bold font. By sure, the examples below will make you a better idea about.
#5. Simple elements
It’s easy to mistake flat design for minimalism but these are two different concepts. Flat design uses simple elements, noting complicated and lets the content speak for itself (content before chrome). Minimalism supposed to reduce everything to strictly necessary and nothing more. We may have a full flat layout that is built from simple elements – clearly, it’s not about minimalism here!
It’s pretty normal to ask yourself if flat is just a passing trend or something that will resist in the art of crafting websites. Should everyone pay attention to flat solutions?
Well, everyone that has a sure answer is totally wrong. The web design world is changing with an amazing rate and we hardly keep the same rhythm. On my humble opinion, flat design isn’t a new discovery- it’s just a “rebranding” and it will be on trend for some years and I am sure it will have the fate of skeuomorphism. The users will be annoyed by so many flat layouts and will ask for something different. Anyway, the idea is that any web designer should pay closer attention to flat approach and create websites with flatness in mind. What should every designer keep in his mind is that flat isn’t a general solution- it might be suitable for some projects and not a good idea for others. No matter that flat is hot; the designer must put everything in balance and according to it, to make a decision. The conclusion is simple and effective: go for flat, but don’t make it obsessively!
On the other hand, don’t consider flat as being just a fade- it has some major advantages and you should benefit from:
#1. Simple and loved
Flat design is simple both for users- they aren’t disturbed by any other items but it’s simpler also for designers than other styles and they may focus more on content. The great news is that people love flatness, therefore ask your clients for a flat solution- they may fall in love with it.
The desktop computers are “already old” and many people use the new gadgets to access the Internet: a non-responsive website has a slight chance of being enjoyed by the users, therefore responsiveness isn’t a fade,it is just a sign that you care about your online presence or your business. Flat design is very suitable for mobile browsing- the big boxes allow everyone to select the desired action. The small buttons that can’t be touched and annoyed every user are history!
#3. Focus on content
It was previously mentioned, but its importance made me treat apart. Many of us forgot or neglected that content is the most important and a design remains a design. Flat design is an approach that lets the users enjoy the content and it’s awesome. You visit a website for information and not for a shiny button, isn’t it?
In the end, I hope that the next examples will delight your eyes and why not, will make you to take flat design into consideration!
– Written by Daniel –