Flat design is one of the many design trends from years past that was expected to make an impact in 2015.
A reaction to the real
This approach is a departure from the skeuomorphic design trend that was taking place as early as 2011. Skeuomorphs are design elements that focused in recreating real life to UI.
The principles of skeuomorphic design is logical in retrospective. The advancements in design tools allows designers to create much more compelling graphics and elements that they used to do.
The problem of recreating real elements onto your UI is how useless and unappealing them are once you see them onscreen.
[A] skeuomorph is a design element in a recreated object that was structurally important in the original but no longer necessary. And once you know what they are, you’ll suddenly notice that they’re everywhere! – Robb Green, Design jargon explained: Skeuomorphism
Robb cites examples of skeuomorphs in design in the same post. The Notes app lets you choose a handwriting font for your text. But when you type out the text, the font has little resemblace to actual handwriting.
The biggest problem of skeuomorphic design is the file size of the elements. Since these are more detailed and intricate, their file sizes are bigger than normal.
This proves to be a disadvantage for web developers. Files of a fast-loading site needs to be compressed so its servers can fulfill the requests of user browsers faster.
Loading skeumorphs in your web design will take time to complete. The servers will have to work twice as hard to load your site. The more time servers need to work, the longer that the site will load. Even if your site looks gorgeous because of the skeuomorphs, users will have left your site before it finishes loading.
The beauty of flat design lies in its simplicity. It is the exact opposite of skeuomorphic design – it is unabashfully simple.
This minimalist approach may be counter-intuitive to the strides made in design as of late. But it is exactly what users need – shed away realistic design graphics that offer little value overall.
In flat design, ornamental elements are viewed as unnecessary clutter. If an aspect serves no functional purpose, it’s a distraction from user experience. This is the reason for the minimalistic nature of flat design. – Luke Clum, The beginner’s guide to flat design
While it does away with the complexity of real-life design, flat design focuses on providing users with a seamless web experience. This approach strips down design to its basic elements. This results to a faster loading and useful site.
Despite the stripped-down elements in a flat design, the focus shifts from aethestics to usability. Instead of thinking on how to make design much more realistic, designers now thinks of better ways to make design elements useful for users.
Designers can focus on improving color combinations to improve conversion and retain more visitors. Both of are factors to a better UI.
This infographic at WebdesignDepot compares flat and skeuomorphic design. It also provides a comprehensive explanation why designers gravitate towards the flat approach. In fact, the flat design employed in the infographic below is now the standard on my visual content like the ones found in Timeline Maker and such.
The evolution is here
Flat design 2.0, also known as flat 2.0, is a much more detailed iteration of the flat design. It retains the minimalist approach but adds more detail to the design without compromising on usability.
Flat 2.0 is an evolution, not a revolution. Where flat design was a radical departure from the rampant skeuomorphism of days gone by, flat 2.0 is a playful branch off the flat tree. Flat design is the Christmas tree, Flat 2.0 is the ornaments and candy canes. And presents. No tinsel though, that stuff is a mess to clean up. – Ryan Allen, Flat Design 2.0
Above is an image that compares flat design and flat 2.0. Can you spot the differences? Head on to Ryan’s article for the answers.
Some of the more popular trends associated with flat 2.0 are as follows.
This allows flat 2.0 to achieve depth and value in your 2D design elements. One of the most popular shadow techniques is the long shadow. It is positioned at a 45-degree angle to an element . The element then casts a trailing and fading shadow to a particular direction.
These are considered as a design trend in itself. But when incorporated in your design approach, ghost buttons can used as attractive CTAs on your sites.
These buttons are just outlines with a text inside. But when you hover the mouse over these, color fades in so you can click on them. Ghost buttons work great with flat web design that uses solid and bright colors.
The minimalist design approach gives way for other elements to shine. Typography allows text in your site to be part of your design.
Choosing the right typography to compliment your design lets you create content that works as a design element as well.
There is still a lot of water for flat 2.0 to tread. We are still at the cusp of its integration in the digital world.
But as more websites are applying flat technology, some are already taking it to the next level. These sites are expanding the horizon of what flat 2.0 is capable of designing. This is great news for designers looking for inspiration on how to do flat design the right way.
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