Recently I just presented on the topic for the latest FredDev meet up. I worked with two other designers on this project to gather information on the subject and to figure out why flat design has become a new trend. With looking at the recent trends on Behance and seeing what my friends were designing at school, I had a vision of what I thought flat design was already. I thought it was kind of a cheap trend that wasn’t going to last very long like the banners and other skeuomorphic design elements developed recently. I felt that there isn’t enough thought put into the design by the means of just using a colored background and a typeface. Once I started doing more research on the subject and knowing that the web world is moving to a more mobile-centric ideal I started to re-evaluate the reasons behind its existence.
I started to noticed my design aesthetic and flat design had a few common elements in mind especially since I like clean typography, minimalism and the usage of shapes as symbols/icons. I started to enjoy making icons that with the flat aesthetic and mixing it with some clean typography. I felt that the same message was still coming across as if it was more extensively design with skeuomorphic elements. The presentation itself turned out to be a great flat design piece of information on how it came to be and why. The presentation garnered a lot of great questions from the members who came to the meet up. We stressed the fact that flat design isn’t just for all web but it is to be used appropriately for the target audience. A kids website would use a more flashed based design while something like a design agency would use the flat aesthetic.
The discussion came about how Windows 8’s usage of flat design has become too complex and not as easily understandable for basic users. Apple has managed to design an interface which has a more distinguishable display for users to be able to understand better. It has the ability to show off links as blue text without having to use a skeuomorphic styled button to have the mind understand what to do with the text. Action buttons on the calculator are orange to show that you need to use these buttons as functions. With the flat aesthetic there is more space for the buttons on a touch screen compared to smaller buttons on previous versions. Typography is larger, cleaner, and more detailed since technology has advanced with imputing more data into these devices. With less clutter there is more room for new design elements such as photos next to contacts in your favorites instead of extra “real-world” buttons. Introducing a more skeuomorphic design initially for the iPhone was a great way for users to begin to understand functions and feels of the device. As we evolve in our technology we have the memory of what each function is capable of in order to “clean house” and introduce a better aesthetic that reflects the modern age.
The same principles in what happened in fine art with the invention of the camera, influenced artists to change. They had to find a simpler, more modern approach in creating art in order to keep up with the times and to try not to make every looks so real. Though flat design is a new trend its definitely showing the importance of mobile first–content first. Having your content be the important part of your website or application is key in moving forward in this technological age. There will definitely be some elements that stick with flat design that will move forward and some elements that will just be apart of the current trend.