Is the Web World Flat Again?

Flat design is the latest thing to hit the new Apple iOS 7 and is also the first major redesign since the first product launch. The design is clean, seamless and flat. Flat design has become the hot topic of design trends. This new design tactic requires a different kind of development methodology and a whole new way of thinking about web design and how it will display on different platforms.

This shift in design styles may have huge implications for online businesses. The new interface could mandate changes to website appearance and functionality, mobile applications, social media and company brand policies and procedures. Flat design also requires the elimination of shadows, textures and 3D appearances which function to give a website its sense of “depth” and what makes the picture or text appear to “come off the page.” But what is standing out is the reality that few people receive information from their computers anymore. With social media and marketing all around us we are more likely to look for information on our smartphones or tablets. The idea behind flat design is to step away from the clutter of most web interfaces. Glares, gradients and other common design techniques that are meant to create effects are now seen as a distraction from the true message and brand identity that websites are portraying. Perhaps they have a point?


The overall consensus seems to be that there is too much clutter on the web. With Apple successfully branded for its ease of use and clean design, it makes sense for them to head in the “flat” direction. Prior to flat design, Skeuomorphic design was used to make objects and pieces of text appear like they do in the real world. Flat design basically eliminates everything that has to do with Skeuomorphic design.


Simplicity is believed to be the main reason for the shift in design techniques. Flat design promotes bold colors, big font, large type and large icons to make mobile usage easier. Although simplified here for the purpose of understanding, flat design is actually quite complex and multi-faceted. Specific color choices establish what is known as a hierarchy of content. This is done to communicate to an end user that the website they are visiting has a hierarchy of information that they want you to see. Parallax scrolling is another change that comes along with flat design. Parallax scrolling is a design technique, originally first used in animation in the 1940’s, where background images move slower than foreground images across the screen, creating an illusion of depth.


A new client of GreatCircle Studios needed a website that called for a flat, responsive design. Our designer adopted all of the web design principles associated with flat design and mobile continuity. The website now displays perfectly on any device and takes advantage of larger, bolder headlines and better, more concise content.


With this new trend, flat design, the lack of clutter on different interfaces and additional “fluff” that is not needed to communicate the same kind of information will be a thing of the past. As people become more accustomed to the design there will be an increase in demand for this type of design methodology. Web design and technology companies will be pressured into adopting or at least embracing some new design tactics that are congruent with flat design and layout.

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