Vector designers and flat icon makers all over the world have been rejoicing-websites and icons are getting cleaner and well-proportioned, thanks to flat design.
Almost everyone loves flat design because it is built to be purposeful, intuitive and minimalistic. It is function over beauty or usability over ornamentation, which is attracting people all over the world.
However, there is also a breed of creative designers who are frustrated as they can’t experiment with shadow, depth, perspective or reflection and have to create variants of the same old images and icon sets.
Also some complaints have been raised stating that flat designs are so flat that it is hard to find which elements are actionable, making the UI less intuitive than previously assumed.
I have been hearing rumors that flat design is dying but so far it hasn’t even shown signs of aging. And as the New Year is approaching, everyone is in a dilemma as to the way forward.
If you too are contemplating using flat design and are wondering if it is still a good idea, this article is a must-read for you.
Big Brands Use it
From Facebook, Nike, Virgin to Olympics, a lot of big brands use flat designs and have seen so much success that everyone is still determined to jump on the proverbial bandwagon.
Also Google rehashed Flat Design and introduced Material Design which is nothing but flat design + gradients + drop shadows, so even creatively-inclined designers have something to look forward to.
Ideal for Mobile Devices
One of the major reasons designers shifted to flat designs is mobile responsiveness. Flat design is the need of hour as smartphones are taking over traditional desktops. Flat mobile apps and sites are clean and easy on the eyes, so users can perform actions on smartphones faster.
As flat designs are very simple in form, they are ideal for mobile devices. If I am asked to come up with one word to sum up the success of flat design, I would say its cross device compatibility, actually three words to be precise.
Users are Comfortable with it
Most people connect design with beauty or aesthetics; however, design is also about process. The first step when designing a responsive or mobile website is to think about business and user needs and then focus on usability of your site.
Most users prefer flat design websites as they load faster and this is what matters to them more than beauty and embellishments.
More Scope for Creativity
From vector illustrations to line drawings, there’s so much scope of creativity and simplicity in flat design websites. Corporate websites and B2B websites can be made a lot more appealing using this design.
In fact, we have seen some refreshingly stunning websites in the last few years which use flat design in the most creative ways.
With skeumorphism, even though there was scope for experimentation with shadows and perspectives, designers were focused on creating something that looked as good as real. Their ability was restricted in making 3D icons and images that imitated their real-life counterparts.
For instance, Apple’s Find Friends app with leather cover effect was designed to look like a leather-bound diary that we used in the 80s.
Flat Design Builds on Minimalism
Flat design strips away the excessiveness of skeuomorphism and makes way for soothing yet brilliant designs. If you are a no frill person, flat design with its remarkably simple style and untarnished coding will suit your purpose perfectly.
Flat design builds on minimalism. No excesses of image or content. A simple icon or vector illustration replaces content as you can see in the example of Sceatt. They have described the rationale behind their business in just four words, whereas the vector images give you an idea about their business.
This is yet another example of brilliant design. Imaginovation has used a combination of image and vector based flat design with eye-catching animation. This combination is simple yet speaks volume about imaginative and innovative thinking of the designer.
However, there is also a risk of using the same old icon sets and boring colors that everyone is using. This is one of the most imminent risks in using flat designs, your website is bound to look like someone else’s because they are using almost a similar color scheme and set of flat icons.
This makes it very important for designers to keep exploring the web for fresh designs and flat icon trends. You must regularly check Pinterest for design inspiration.
It allows for a Consistent and Adaptable UI
The most effective way to get your website look good on multiple platforms is to incorporate a responsive design. Flat design allows for consistent, scalable and adaptable UI, so your website can stretch and fit practically any mobile device being used.
What’s more, the ‘less is more’ concept behind flat design makes it perfect for mobile devices which are bogged down by slow speed and snail-paced load times.
As with everything, there is another side to using flat designs too. While I personally believe flat design is still the best way forward for websites, there are people who are bored with the monotony of flat designs.
Also, despite the simplicity of flat designs, there are instances where flat design falls flat. I especially recommend this article on sixrevisions.com which sheds light on bad use cases of flat design.
The ideal way to decide if you should go for flat websites is to find out what works in your business. If you encounter a lot of similar or standardized run of the mill websites, try using alternate UI kits.
There are so many options available these days in designing, UI etc. that you will be spoilt for choices. The simplest rule is to follow your heart and creative instincts and you wouldn’t go wrong!
Author Bio: Michael Georgiou is a dynamic business professional and entrepreneurial guru associated with Imaginovation – Charlotte Web Design Company proven his success in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both the public and private sectors. Catch him on Twitter – @mgeorgiou22.