The latest trend these days that has come into vogue in the web designing is the use of Flat User Interface Design. The most glaring example is Google- the search engine giant that has based all its design on this technique, including Microsoft’s Metro (design language) and Apple’s OS X Yosemite. A flat design, basically does not use the stylistic elements like drop shadows, gradients or textures that provide a 3 dimensional look to the design. This technique aims to provide only 2 dimensional design with all the intended functionality that a regular interface provides. Though it makes the task a bit difficult for the designers since most of the decorations and effects are stripped and still all the important elements and actions must be defined clearly in with the design itself.

Flat UI Design

The term “Flat Design” has been coined and made popular by Allan Grinshtein from LayerVault, a Version Control for Designers. In his post, “The Flat Design Era”, Allan explains, “elegant interfaces are the ones that have the most impact with the fewest elements”. This idea though encouraged the designers to keep a minimal amount of decorative elements, was taken hands on since this was something new and fresh compared to the routine web 2 and web 3 designs that had become both commonplace and monotonous.

A few important characteristics of flat design:

  • In a lay man’s language, one of the basic identifications of a flat design is that it seems to have been cut out of a cardboard.
  • Generally bright and contrasting colors are used in conjunction with various geometric shapes.
  • No use of gradient, drop shadows, embossing, textures or other elements that provide depth or a 3 dimensional look.
  • The background image, foreground image, buttons, navigation, texts and other elements are quite distinct from each other.
  • The use of colors and the placement of the various elements portray a clear sense of hierarchy in the design.
  • Generally visuals are either not or some simple imagery is used.

Flat user Interface Designs are not only being used for web sites, but are being used in mobile applications and animations as well and are in fact, proving to be better as these are lighter, render easily and provide better load times.

All said a flat design will be a flat design and it solely depends on the creativity of the designer to bring out the hierarchy of the elements, the visual appeal of the overall design and provide due focus to the various elements. This sums up the core of the Flat User Interface Design methodology. Many designers and webmasters across the spectrum have taken a liking to this technique and it now has its own core group of die-hard fans, but it cannot be said to be a completed replacement for the web 2 and web 3 styles, though we can say for sure that it is here to stay and we will see a lot more of the flat designs in the coming future.

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