Web Tip: flat design – cluttered and complex is SO yesterday.

What is flat design?

The flat web design trend applauds simplicity; utilizing the sharp lines, bright colors, and bold typography popularized by minimalistic design, and shying away from fancy flourishes, gradients, drop shadows, or other artistic effects. High color contrasts, white space, and large buttons common in flat web design create a friendly user interface.

Cut through the cluttered digital space

You’ll notice tech giants Microsoft, Google, and Apple seem to be leaning more and more towards flat design in their products. This was especially obvious when Apple previewed its iOS7 UI, replete with a much flatter design than the previous versions. Why flat design? The theory is that the design’s simplicity helps users focus on your content, value proposition, and products, without being distracted by flashy design. Users can quickly figure out what actions you want them to take on your site, improving their overall experience. Less is more! Cluttered and complex is SO yesterday.

Flat Design Makes Sense in a Mobile World

The flat design trend has become increasingly popular with the surge in mobile user growth. The streamlined design technique makes it perfect for the clunky fingers of mobile users. If you are building your site using responsive design techniques, than you are in luck! Flat design often mirrors the same responsive best practices: large text for easy reading, large buttons for easy clicking, and minimalistic navigation. Both techniques design for the end user, instead of trying to impress users with unnecessary embellishments that will weigh down pages and increase load time.

What does it look like? 

Check Wistia’s creative flat design. Notice how the site has been designed using calming color contrasts, shapes, and sharp lines. The typography is large and easy to read. The design is minimalistic and although detailed, it remains uncluttered – the designer made strategic decisions to balance both aesthetics and usability.  Even cooler – the squares that line the bottom and sides disappear when you click them, shifting the remaining blocks down like a game of Tetris! The simple design makes it crystal clear how to navigate the site.

Flat

It’s all about your users.

To echo Whereoware’s philosophy and favorite advice, your number one focus should always be giving your customers (and website visitors) the most optimal user experience possible. A “flashy,” but cluttered or confusing site will not benefit your business.

Like all design trends, flat web design is not for everyone – some people plain hate the look and that is perfectly okay. Incorporating the principals of flat design is just one possibility for improving and streamlining the user experience. If an entirely flat design is wrong for your business and users, you could incorporate a few flat design elements or develop a semi-flat or flexible flat design that features slight drop shadows or gradients, and then measure whether this helps or hurts your users’ experience. There is rarely a right or wrong answer when it comes to design. The key is finding the right design elements to benefit your web users.