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  • The Life and Times of Flat Design

    Flat Design is a current trend in web design. This trend has been growing in popularity and has reached a pinnacle with Apple’s release of IOS 7.

    While Apple didn’t introduce Flat Design, their latest design iterations in IOS 7 will likely inspire several more years of this trend. This article explores flat design and why it is such a growing trend.

    ios7

    What is Flat Design?

    A better question is what isn’t flat design? Flat design lacks:

    • depth
    • texture
    • 3D effects
    • extreme gradients

    Flat Design is a move towards simplicity and minimalism. Rather than focusing on effects, flat design focuses on design elements themselves including:

    • color
    • typography
    • a grid

    flat-ui

    Flat design often uses a colorful palette. Pastel colors are used to express friendliness and warmth.

    Typography and a grid create pleasing white space. This makes text and user interfaces easy to read and understand.

    Why is Flat Design So Trendy?

    There are several reasons why flat design has increased in popularity over the past few years, namely:

    • Responsive Design
    • Display Quality
    • Apple

    Responsive Design Lends Itself to Flat Design

    Grids are very important in responsive design. Many grid systems have been put into use to help create responsive layouts.

    A site now needs to be able to break apart into modules. These modules need whitespace which creates part of a flat aesthetic.

    grid

    Designers can do more with web fonts and typography. Typography has increased in importance as responsive web design has taken off. Typography is important in responsive design because:

    • Type renders faster than images
    • Words & type are pivotal to user experience
    • HTML text is naturally fluid and easy to resize
    • More web fonts are now safe to use

    Responsive design has lead to a renewed interest in typography. The transition towards more typographic layouts helped shape the flat design aesthetic.

    The transition towards more typographic layouts helped shape the flat design aesthetic.

    Flat Design Looks Good Across Devices

    Text and color look amazing on Retina displays. Low resolution images look awful.

    Flat design works well on expensive retina displays and cheap mobile devices. Colors and text will perform as good as the screen and browser allows.

    What about shadows and gradients? These things can be done in CSS alone. Why have these decreased in usage?

    devices

    Apple’s Influence on Flat Design

    Apple influences design trends. While Apple didn’t introduce flat design, the fact that they embraced it will likely inspire several years of flat design.

    Apple believes consumers no longer need visual cues that mimic the real world. A digital calendar, they believe, no longer needs to look like a physical thing. Shadows, gradients and depth are getting left behind in exchange for a more minimal user interface.

    A digital calendar, they believe, no longer needs to look like a physical thing.

    Flat Design Resources

    Here are a few galleries to get inspired by flat design:

    Here’s a few resources to help create flat designs:

    What are your thoughts about flat design? Is it just a passing trend? Do you think it helps or hurts usability? I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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