The benefits of “flat” design

Andrea Ferguson

President at AndiSites Inc.
Andi is founder and President of AndiSites Inc. She writes about website design and development, best practices, and random stuff her busy brain thinks would be useful.
Andrea Ferguson

Every year brings new design trends. As in fashion, they come and go, responding to the caprices of the user (or wearer) community. There is one design trend emerging, though, that we hope will stick around:  “flat” design.

For a few years now, “skeuomorphic” design has been popular–the little 3D effects that raise a button from the screen; the stitches at the top of a ribbon that make it look hand-sewn;  the curling pages of a virtual book. Cool as those effects are, times they are a-changin’.

The new trends in web design have less to do with making something look like a virtual duplication of the real thing, and more with simplicity. Mimimalism, clear layouts, app-style interfaces, and flat colors make it easier for the eye to find action items, and they definitely make sites easier to read on the small screens of our handheld devices.  Flat areas of color also load more quickly than gradients and textures, making dense sites much more bandwidth-friendly. They also look better on eReaders and other mobile devices that can’t quite handle the image density we were so enamored of when our users were primarily consuming our websites on large-screen monitors.

Windows 8’s simple, color-blocked interface is probably the most pervasive example of this trend, but look around on new websites and you’ll start to see it more and more. Less focus on drop shadows; more focus on color, form, and typography.

Flat design combined with simpler interfaces and more minimalist layouts can make the difference between someone coming to your site for the pretty custom graphics, or coming to your site to actually consume your content.  We vote for content always…so stay tuned for more examples of flat design in our own portfolio.

Wanna see some great examples of flat design?  Check out this post.



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