Flat design hit the scene just a couple of years ago, and was immediately taken up as the latest trend in web design and a solution to mobile and web design challenges. Already though, some are saying that the days of flat design are waning. Still others believe that elements of this style will stay relevant for years to come. Will flat design ever die?
“Flat design certainly deserves merit for its return to a cleaner content-focused framework. But when taken to an extreme, it can just as easily leave sites feeling coldly architectured like a $20M hillside mansion with plenty of class but not enough coziness,” write Jerry Cao, Kamil Zieba and Matt Ellis in FastC@ompany.
As Cao et. al. point out, the design practice has its pros and cons. It works great in responsive frameworks, making it ideal for mobile devices; it’s highly readable; and the colors and graphics tend to be engaging with a simplicity that speaks clearly.
The down side, the authors note, is the inherent design difficulty of good minimalism.
“A common misconception is that the minimalistic style makes a flat design easier to build, but the truth is closer to the opposite. Because the screen space is limited, each element must be chosen with care. In short, flat design is difficult to do well, but easy to do poorly,” they write.
Add to that a tendency to blur the lines between what’s clickable and what’s not, plus the real challenge of creating distinct brand identity, and design in this style has its challenges.
“The best approach to flat design, as with any design philosophy, is to focus less on the aesthetic and more on why you’re designing. Flat design is more about creating a design that provides only enough secondary elements to navigate the content. Don’t forget that the visual style is simply a byproduct of its content-first goals.”
The authors believe that some elements of flat design will remain, including the trend to skeuomorphism, resulting in a lasting and workable style that can be adapted to the project. Elements likely to hang around are solid iconography, bold and readable typography, and an overall minimalistic look that cuts to the chase of the message.
“While these days flat design seems trendy, there are reasons why flat design has risen in popularity. Even if the flat aesthetic gets replaced in the near future, we still think that whatever takes the throne will be flat-inspired.”