Flat web design: a sweeping web design trend


Web design was getting pretty crazy for a while. Web designers used to brag about their skills by adding stylistic elements such as shadows and gradients, flashy illustrations and animations to impress visitors.
Today most designers prefer going for the flat user interface (UI) design. This exciting trend was there a long time ago and it started to emerge in 2011, but today it’s almost everywhere, and renowned tech firms such as Microsoft and Apple has shifted to it.

The flat web design relies on a minimalistic UI design tactic that presents to the user a simplified 2D visuals that don’t use any stylistic elements, such as shadows and gradients. It focuses more on providing a streamlined, efficient and readable UI design to increase usability and focus more on content, making it one of a more functional design that eases the process of providing the user with a more delightful user experience (UX).

Why it’s spreading all over the web

There are many features that increase the desirability of a flat web design when choosing a UI design approach, whether it’s a website or an app. The clean layouts used in this design makes it more conducive for responsive designs, providing a faster page load time and easy resizing. It’s structured layout and crisp visuals give a more mature design that makes navigation easier for the user.

The huge color palettes of the flat design provide a more exciting visual experience and the simplified graphics and icons that mimic real life items, make this design approach easier to understand from the user’s point of view.

The bold lines and figures add an architectural sense within a logical texture, and the textual style in addition to the abandonment of redundant flourishes and ornaments of design gives an intensified focus on the content.

Does that make it a flawless design?

The wide use of flat web design doesn’t make it flawless. Even though most web designers are in love with this design style, some people criticize it and think that it sacrifices the user needs.

Users are accustomed to the usual signifiers of clickable elements, such as the blue underlines for linked elements, and 3D effects for buttons. Even if the user’s ability to determine clickability has evolved, that doesn’t mean that he is not in need of any visual clue to signify where he must click when navigating a website or an app. This point leads to the complication of the user’s ability to understand what is clickable and what is not, which might affect the usability of the website.

Add to this that the popularity of the flat design creates a lack of identity problem, since the more sites that use it, the more they all look alike.

Is that enough to make it less appealing for designers

No, because the flat design lovers worked their ways to overcome the problem without compromising usability. They started to go for what they call a semi-flat design or flat 2.0. The flat 2.0 is a flat design that includes shadows, highlights, and layers to provide a sense of depth in the UI to ease the process of understanding the clickable elements.

Even if the flat design faces criticism, we can see that designers are not giving up on it. The maturity of this visual style will let it continue evolving, and whatever design trend comes to sweep the ground of web and app design, we still think that it is going to be inspired by the flat style.

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