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Designs Trending Towards Flat In The Future

Created: 30 Apr 2013 • Updated: 03 Jun 2014 • 2 comments
Reshma Kumar's picture
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There has been a lot of discussion recently around Apple's reported push towards flatter designs. Others, such as Microsoft are already said to be bucking this trend with it's Window's Phone metro design, along with Facebook and it's new 'f' icon design.

Designs with more 3-D and life-like appeal have been popular for some time. Such designs were highly popularized by Apple for their skeuomorphic qualities. This approach added more realism, richness, and familiarity to design elements and helped bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds for users.

The trend and chatter now seems to be revolving around the antiquity of this approach and suggests that it is potentially not meeting the needs of today's modern users. For instance, younger users might not be familiar with some of the real-world metaphors commonly used such as a rolodex, and highly stylized, multi-dimensional elements might be overly complex for today's mobile needs.

Either way, the push for a flatter design direction is an indication of evolving esthetics, needs, and demands by users. Flat designs would introduce a more streamlined and contemporary feel; it would help reduce elements to their core elements eliminating any unnecessary visual detail; and it could aid in making downloads faster especially on mobile platforms.

While a flat design might suggest basic and unimaginative, flatter doesn't have to mean less visually appealing. Interfaces can still be clean, colorful, and have some dimensionality and layers thereby achieving that elegant and lightweight effect.

Perhaps, it is time to move the design needle forward to simpler and modern yet effective designs which are a reflection of our busy lives and need for quick and easy access.

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Rich Lam's picture

Flat designs also hinder a UI if not used properly.

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mp108's picture

Maybe flat or not is just the wrong question. Many users are finding that icons and other eye candy are just not the way they easily recognize whatever it is meant to represent. At the same time, they immediately recognize the cover of any of thousands of music CDs in their iTunes library.

The answer to this dilema can be found in the following book:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Recognizing an icon forces us to do "slow thinking", any album is identified by its cover using "fast thinking". So, it is a design issue, but not really a flatness issue.

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