Do you remember when Microsoft first released their style guides for their mobile and Windows 8 platforms? Personally, I recall reading much internet outrage about the “flat blandness” of the design, and innumerable disparaging remarks regarding the color choices. My how have we come a long way in such a short time.
Apple products have tended to rake in the accolades for design aesthetics and can be credited with the push toward minimalism in web and app design. But did you know that Microsoft took it to a whole other level with their Metro design and basically ushered in the current trend of flat design?
Flat design: what exactly is it? For the uninitiated, flat design is a philosophy of simplification when designing graphical user interfaces. Take away all the frills, all the stylistic tweaks applied to buttons, text, graphics, and reduce it down to its essence. When properly executed a flat design should communicate ease of functionality and use.
Flat design has its place, meaning not every project is suited for flat design. While trends in design can be seductive, it’s important to know when to apply these trends to our designs. Remember: one size does not fit all.
Pain points: One of the most troubling and difficult aspects of flat design is how to properly design and style interactive elements such as buttons, forms, links, etc. While hover effects may be solution enough for desktop and laptop devices, interactive elements on tablets and mobile products can be more problematic due to a lack of hover capabilities. It’s important to keep in mind the visual cues necessary to communicate to your visitor that these elements are interactive.
We recommend taking some time to investigate examples of flat design before diving into your first flat design project. As always, the internet has a wealth of examples, articles, and freebies pertaining to flat design. A quick Google search will yield plenty of results. One article that we found especially good though was this one: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/flat-design-resources/
Design trends come and go, and flat design is no different. While it’s tempting to run with the latest trend we highly recommend selectivity when it comes to your projects. Flat design is another tool in your arsenal when it comes to solving design problems. Enjoy it but though choose appropriately.