Flat UI Design : Key Principles and Possibilities

By kevalpadia, 8 June, 2015
Flat UI Design : Key Principles and Possibilities

Flat web design trend has emerged in the past few years and it seems to have exploded in popularity. The credit goes to large companies and organizations that have changed their design aesthetic to flat design. The combination of bright colors and exotic typography lead to the trend of unique flat interfaces. It is a brilliant design concept as it directly focuses on the content. The design emphasizes usability and features open space, clean, bright colors and 2D illustrations. Microsoft was the first to implement this design style on their interface. It depicts a clear separation between technology and tactile objects.

What is Flat Design?

It is a flattened interface style that has stripped any illustration of the third dimension. The elements are made to appear as if they are lying on some flat surface. Shadows, gradients and glow effects are not flat-design friendly. It is the simpler version of the interface, but the detailing is complex. Most of the designers and developers believe that stripping the interface from effects and decorations makes it difficult to define the main elements in design. The users have also become sophisticated and they do not want to see the objects in a 3-dimensional view.

Reason for the Popularity of Flat Design

Most of us are surprised to see the popularity of flat design in today’s advanced industry. There are 3 main reasons for this.

  1. Users are now more concerned about how the web works
  2. A lot of developments have been seen in the technology
  3. The trend of mobile devices has increased a lot
  4. Tech savvy users are focusing on new web trends

How to Create a Flat Design?

In order to create an effective design, the developer needs to center the design elements on the idea of simplicity. Solid and vivid colors are the base for a flat design along with sans serif typography that provides a clean supplement to illustrations. All the UI buttons and links should be clearly visible on the page.

Flat Design in the Digital World

It is true that history repeats itself and it holds true for this design as well. This design can be traced back to the 1920’s and has influenced the current adaptation of flat design also. Although many designers have worked on the flat websites, but all the credit goes to Microsoft and Apple that made this design pretty popular over the past few years.

Flat Design Key Principles

Not many of the designers are following the basic design principles while working with the flat websites. Creating a flat design by following the below principles will add to a great user experience.

Let’s have a look at some of the basic key design principles for flat designs that the designers must consider.

  1. Minimalistic Design - Due to the minimalistic visual appearance of this design, it stands exactly opposite to the skeuomorphic design. The flat design does not use animations, attractive UI elements and 3D effects. There is no embellishment in this design and the flat designers believe in vivid color patterns and simple UI elements for an impressive UI design.
  2. Simple User Interface - Simple shapes are there for the designers like rectangle, circle, square, etc. in order to integrate different UI elements. The designers are free to use any shape for the best UI pattern. The various flows of actions must be consistent in order to ensure a smooth performance.
  3. Color and Typography - Gradients, drop shadows and many other strong design elements are not supported by the flat design. Vibrant and bold color palettes are included in this design and the color schemes are much brighter as compared to the colors used in the skeuomorphic design.Content is the core element of flat design and the design approach holds the typography that allows setting an appropriate design tone for a project.The designers can use a number of typefaces available in this design. The overall look can be enhanced by using the best suitable font.
  4. No Depth - The 2D flat design has put an end to the era of depth web design. The absence of drop shadows, strokes and other strong UI elements has made this possible for the designers. The design basically focuses on the simplification of images by avoiding drop shadows or strokes to the objects in order to make real world visual effects.
  5. Visual Hierarchy - There is a lack of distinction between different elements on the page due to the lack of shadows or gradients and this makes it difficult for the users to click the element of their choice. The designer can overcome this problem by creating a visual hierarchy. The clickable items can be distinguished by using different color schemes and font sizes.

Many challenges are involved with capturing the design aesthetic, but the designers can always succeed if everything is set to work in a proper path.

Where to Use Flat Design?

Flat design should be used the way it is. It is simple to create but it is not recommended for every website. If the designer is designing a portfolio or a tech start up site, then using a flat design would be a great idea. The designer has to face some limitation, if he or she is trying to create some complex design. If the website is intended towards kids, then it is great to use flashy colors and the page should be full of fun elements. A gaming website that may have a number of graphics and attractive UI elements will not go with the flat design. It is necessary to keep the target audience in mind while creating or designing a website. If the designer is able to deliver the message by using flat design then it is good, otherwise it should be avoided.

Future of Flat Design

It is safe to say that this design will eventually run its course and will soon be replaced by something new and exciting design style. Although, the design is very popular, but there are some flaws and with more experimentation by the designers, the design will evolve and a new style will emerge in the place of this flat design style. There is one aspect to what the future holds for this design style. The current flat design of Google applications is showing signs that this style will work more for a few more years. Google is trying to use the best of this design by integrating both the flat and rich designs. The trend of this design is growing fast and the designers are excited about this and this is nothing new in the course of history as this is just a reincarnation of its ancestor in our digital world. The future of website design cannot be predicted and whatever comes after the flat design, the designers would love to work on that. It is serving its purpose well for a number of websites by combining both the function and simplicity for a great user experience. It is clear that the era of this design is not over yet. Technology has been forever and it will continue to change and the designers just need to update themselves with the latest one.

Author Bio - Keval Padia is a Founder & CEO of Nimblechapps, a fast-growing android game development company. The current innovation and updates of the field lures him to express his views and thoughts on certain topics.