Flat Design: What Is It All About?
Design is always in motion, and new trends are usually right around the corner, but some trends can stay for a long time. That can be said about flat design, which has been a staple for… ten years?! And while it seems to be on its way out, it’s still prevalent. Let’s talk about it.
Flat design roots
In the early days of the web, designers did not opt for minimalist designs. However, people eventually grew tired of flashy animations and gaudy colors and chose to settle on simple, legible designs. They replaced skeuomorphic elements with more abstract ideas and eliminated glassy logos in favor of serious, one-color designs.
In 2012, Microsoft bravely went where no one had gone before and introduced Metro — its new design language based around square tiles. It wasn’t loved, but it was fresh, and a year later, Apple followed suit by introducing iOS 7. After that, there was no way back.
What is flat design
Flat design is, well, flat, but that’s not everything. But yes, simplicity defies it: instead of relying on virtual objects sharing the same basic elements as those in real life (notepad app having the same texture as paper, etc.), the new design language is more abstract, hoping that the new generation of users is more tech-savvy and doesn’t need constant reminders of the way things were.
Flat design is rooted in simplicity and intuitiveness. Everything is minimal, from typography to interface. It’s also bright and makes use of white space.
As a result of its minimalistic nature, flat design made web pages faster to load and lighter. Usability improved, too, as well as accessibility — it’s no coincidence that in the 2010s, the web finally started thinking about accessibility. Better contrast, larger fonts, all of this make pages much easier to understand.
Adaptability is also something that wasn’t really a thing before. Now, in the era of flatness, websites have become truly adaptable, equally convenient on bigger screens and mobile phones.
In 10 years, most big websites are more or less “flat,” and it’s hard to remember they were before. Apple, Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, Basecamp, Google, Microsoft, and more have been successfully flattened.
Why do people dislike flat design
Flat design conquered all but acquired a whole army of enemies in the process. Some designers were never on board, and not without reason. Common issues include lack of visual interest. After all, minimalism is not for everyone, and the simple geometric attributes of flat design resulted in bland, similar-looking websites and apps. Simply put, it’s not an expressive style, lacking the wow factor and limiting creativity.
We mentioned that flat design lacks visual cues, which can be a problem for some users. It’s supposed to be intuitive, but inconsistent implementation resulted in it being all over the place.
We at Beluga don’t believe it’s fair to criticize any style. After all, different websites and brands require different styles. If you do it right, any style can resonate with users.