Flat Design

I am writing this short blog post to dispel all misunderstandings about Flat design, often wrongly seen as a “simpler” design.

To explain something, often it is best to start with what is not. So, Flat design is not a rich design; it stays away from textures and gradients that create three dimensional looks. Flat design is the opposite of skeuomorphic design, also know as the traditional design which typically emphasizes the use of flashy illustrations, animations and other styles that make designs complex.

But, what is Flat design exactly? Flat design is closely rooted to Swiss style, Bauhaus and Modernism. The term “Flat design” was originated by Allan Grinshtein, the founder of LayerVoult. Flat design refers to a genre in the field of interface design that involves the application of uncomplicated elements of design to increase functionality. Often, the smart use of vector images and minimalist approach facilitates the conveyance of messages and thus makes interfaces easy to understand and connect, making Flat design widely accepted, hinting a new and effortless UI (User Interface) experience.

Many designers choose Flat design because it enables them to create user friendly layouts by streamlining various aspects of interface design. Additionally Flat design feels clean and modern, which allows designers to focus on the point of the message that needs to be conveyed. Examples of common features of this genre of design also include open spaces, use of icons and clearly defined edges.

Proponents of flat design criticize the genre by claiming that it is a fad and somewhat simpler design that will not last for long. They argue that lack of important features such as rich details, highlights and drop shadows deny users certain experiences.

On the other hand, Flat design advocates argue that designers use bright colors, cool typography, smooth shapes and user interface elements which enhance the visual experience, eliminating this way the need for complex illustrations.

Lastly, Flat design has been fully embraced by giants such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and many more. Flat design goes beyond a temporary trend: many see this direction as sexy and organic model continuing to leave a permanent mark on our life style. A Zen saying states that “The highest level of sophistication is simplicity”, thus Flat design is Zen simple in many aspects, but never “simpler”.