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July 03, 2013

The World is Flat - A Signal That Flat Design is Not Just a Trend

Thought by FFW,

The signs have been pointing to flatter interfaces for years now, and so it’s not that flat-designs that are now launching on many mobile devices are exploring new worlds of design, but they are certainly making things interesting. Whether you like what you have seen or not from Apple with iOS 7, it certainly has made a statement that as a design language, flat design isn’t just a quick turnkey fad.

Think of this, the former skeuomorphism version of iOS has been alive and well for almost six years now. So there is no reason to think that a company like Apple (while there will be improvements) will not stick to this core for at least 5 years. After-all mac users are still in an OSX world 14 years later.

I have always been a huge proponent of flat design. I had sold my soul to Satan when I first began working digitally to make a few “Web 2.0” sites, but I quickly vowed to never go back to it. It didn’t make much sense to me, and it was led to very disjointed experiences. The web-design world was drunk on over using drop shadows, gradients, real-world textures, and bubble gum icons. I was hung over after my first project. Since then, I have been working with flat colors, subtle textures, and focusing in on real strong user-experiences that don’t need the fluff of an over complicated design sensibility.

The real reason that designers and creators of the digital world can get away with this new design language though, is because we no longer have to teach users how to use the internet through our sites and apps. The learning curve is over. Everyone understands what is clickable and what is not. And thus, we no longer need buttons to look like they could be pushed in by our fingers. We don’t need links that strobe and send confetti across the screen when you hover over it. We can get away with a lot more, because the general public understands how to use our products.

Now this isn’t to say that good design and usability aren’t important, because with a new design sense it is even more important. I always tell my designers that designing something complicated is easy, but designing something as minimal as it can possibly be is hard. We need to ensure that users still know how to use our sites and apps, and that we select colors and icons and button styles that remain consistent across an experience. The new world of informed users are quick learners, but you can’t throw them a curve ball with every click, because they will not only get frustrated, but they will just click the X in the corner and leave your site.

The future of flat design seems to be here, and it’s exciting. A whole new world of creativity is about to take over.