iNoobs: What is Flat Design

Categories Web Design

When it comes to websites and apps, there’s more and more talk about flat design, especially as opposed to skeuomorphic design. It is not easy to pinpoint its inception, but it’s a fact that the popularity of this new trend makes many mobile and web designers shelve skeuomorphism in favor of this new form of minimalism, reminiscent of sleek simplicity. Some attribute this revival of minimalism in web designs to a constant need nowadays: feeding several platforms, not just one, and trying to achieve goals faster but with less options.

In practical terms, flat design means designing without the usual gradients, pixel perfect shadows, and skeuomorphism that’s been rampant in recent years (more on this later) to achieve what appears to be a “flat” interface. ~ source

So, by default, a flat design looks good on screens irrespective of size and resolution, thus having the essential quality of doing miracles (sort of) for online interactivity. Often praised for its usability, apparently it does work miracles for developers and designers too, as covering several platforms can be an exhausting task. That’s why flat design is also a great timesaver for those applying it.

However, skeuomorphism has an undeniable charm, with its creative overlapping of design concepts and graphical style. The term derives from skeuomorph which is “an object or feature which imitates the design of a similar artefact in another material” according to Oxford dictionaries. If skeuomorphism has a taste for imitating real-life objects, flat design is not shying away from its digital roots, somehow stripping design to the bone. Probably that’s why some even dare call it ‘honest design’. For example I was preparing for the 220-801 A+ and sy0-301 Security+ exams when I realized that the IT industry is ironically a step behind in this respect.

In the end, it is up to each and every designer and developer to create websites and apps that strike the right balance and satisfy their target audiences. You can figure out what less heavy gradients and eye catching textures means for the content though. But that’s a different story.

It’s also good to remember that in a world confronted with an inflation of tools, platforms, and devices, with audiences bombarded with information and data, less could actually prove to be more.

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.