What is Flat Design?
Flat design is a minimalist UI design genre, or design language, commonly used in graphical user interfaces (such as web applications and mobile apps), especially in graphical materials such as posters, arts, guide documents, publishing products.
History of Flat Design
Flat design is primarily influenced by the International Typographic Style (also known as Swiss Style), Text User Interface, Modernism, and the styles emerging from Bauhaus. The International Typographic style is often considered the most substantial influence on flat design, and its emergence and popularization during the 1950s and 1960s are regarded as the starting point for flat design, although it would not make an appearance in the digital world for some time thereafter.
Flat Design was initially introduced by Microsoft with the name Metro Design and later on they used an alternative Flat Design. In 2002, Microsoft released Windows Media Center, and in 2006, the Zune MP3 player, both of which contained elements of flat design. The design of the Zune player was clean and simple, with a focus on large lowercase typography, silhouette-style logos, and monochromatic font colors. Microsoft continued this style with the 2010 release of Windows Phone 7, which was built on the flat design elements introduced with Zune. The design was dominated by large and bright shapes accompanied by sans-serif typography, flat images, and a menu with a grid-like pattern. Because of the success of the Windows Phone 7 design, Microsoft released the Windows 8 operating system based on Metro, with the same flat design elements. Use of bold colors, simple typography, long shadow and ghost buttons are some of the crucial elements of flat web design. Again, the design is dominated by grid shapes, sharp edges, bright colors, and clean typography. Microsoft has since moved its current products to the Metro design language, including the Xbox 360, Microsoft Office, and the Microsoft website.
Principles of Flat Design
- the simplicity of shapes and elements
- bold and highly readable typography
- clear and strict visual hierarchy
- close attention to details
- a thoughtful appliance of bright colors and contrast supporting a quick visual perception
- avoiding textures, gradients and complex forms
- applying the principles of grids, geometric approach, and visual balance.
Benefits of Flat Design
- readability and legibility
- clear visual hierarchy via shapes, colors and fonts
- effective support for quick and intuitive navigation in web and mobile interfaces
- easy adjustability in terms of adaptive and responsive design
- effective legibility on various screens
- easier to develop
- a less load for the digital system.
Where should flat design be used?
Flat design should be used moderately. Even though it’s a simple way to create a light and minimalistic interface, it isn’t right for every website. For example, flat can be great if you’re designing a portfolio or web tech startup site, but it can be a limitation if you’re trying to create something more complex. If you’re designing a website for children, you’ll probably want to make it flashy and colorful, full of fun elements and animated characters. In the same way, if you’re creating a gaming website it should be all about graphics and effects, and the design should be connected to the game.
Flat design is more of a philosophy and style than a strict set of rules. As a philosophy, it embraces the mantra “Form follows function” and doesn’t decorate without a reason. As the name suggests, it makes no attempt to look multidimensional and produces interfaces that look much like a flat poster.
But remember – Design is a form of problem-solving. Never forget that.