Web Design Trends – Flat is the New Black
For the past few years, web design and app development have been bathed in skeuomorphism. This design was meant to reflect the physical world and to add an element of familiarity and comfort to our internet experiences. The result is that we have been bevelled, shadowed and textured to within an inch of our senses.
As a website design, skeuomorphism ended up overloading us with information, colours and fonts. However, the tide has now turned and flat, simple interfaces are becoming increasingly popular.
Flat and thin web designs to the rescue
But what is a flat web design? And why is it so popular?
Well like skeuomorphism, a flat design is basically a visual aesthetic, it is about how a website looks, rather than how it is constructed. So a flat design focusses on usability and less on visual distractions.
Flat designs are crisp and streamlined; they do not try to disguise the inherent limitations of the 2 dimensional screen (like skeuomorphism), instead they embrace these limitations and act as a catalyst for developing faster and more functional websites.
There have been two significant drivers in the move towards flat website designs:
The rapid growth in mobile devices has led to a massive change in how people access the internet. No longer shackled to a desk, people can now access their emails, surf the web, search for information and make purchases online – all from their smart phone or Tablet.
It is this demand for mobility that has driven the need for responsive designs. This was because, consumers needed a seamless transition between smartphones, PCs and Tablets. They expected a website to display the same, regardless of which device they used to access the website.
Websites that are visually complex and distracting can therefore be troublesome on small screens and may not display equally across all devices. So whilst a responsive design does not equate to a flat design, the simpler elements of a flat design lend themselves well to responsive designs.
Too much clutter:
Another driver for a simpler design is the need for less visual stimulation. With the increased use of the internet, people are constantly searching for and being bombarded with information.
This can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed with information, a feeling which has been exacerbated by the upsurge in mobile devices with small screens. Trying to read lots of information on a small screen, particularly when the design is not responsive, can lead to visual overload. A flat 2 dimensional design helps to reduce this feeling by uncluttering and simplifying the visual elements on a small screen.
Even app developers are turning to a simpler interface that lends itself well to a flat design – focussing more on streamlined offerings, rather than on complex and cluttered feature sets.
Another design element that works well with a simple and uncluttered flat design are touchscreens. This is because, controls and buttons which previously needed to be displayed prominently on a page, in case they were missed, are now being replaced by touch commands. Touchscreens fit in well with the subtler attributes of a flat design.
Of course, a flat design does not mean that functionality is compromised. Flat designs strip away the distracting visual elements and expose the extreme adaptability inherent within a simpler interface. Faster loading pages, cleaner code and increased user friendliness define a flat design.
A flat design has brought us to a world where functionality and visual aesthetics are well balanced.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.