Welcome to the Era of Flat Design


“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”

- Robert L. Peters

Once upon a time, the earth’s early inhabitants thought that their world was flat and it took eons before society could nullify this ancient belief. While we can take this page out of our 2nd grade history book, it appears that history is about to repeat itself once again. We’re going to have to revert and accept that our world is flat. Our digital design world that is.

This article was mostly inspired after I rushed to get the most recent Apple iOS7 update to see what the hype was all about. I’ve noticed that many designs, whether it be a company logo or a website’s UI (User Interface), has gone towards a more minimalistic and flat design. In this case, the new iOS7 interface has been completely revamped to a simplified look for better or for worse. It wasn’t too long ago that common design aspects tended to be flashy, 3 dimensional and skeuomorphic – a replica like approach made to emulate objects in the 3d physical world. Flash forward to 2013 and gone forever are the beveled buttons and gradient textures.

w8flatdesign

Here’s the best example of a flat design that you’re probably familiar with when Windows 8 rolled out their Start Menu UI.

In case you’re wondering, I’m actually a fan of flat design that’s been sprouting everywhere. Hate it or love it, some may say that this new flat design approach has us going backwards in the wrong direction and I can agree on some part. I think we’ll all eventually get used to the surge of flat design and see it as the norm when it’s displayed on websites, UI, and yes even company branding. I’m just wondering how flat design will affect our ideas, values, and outlook on aesthetic design moving forward. I’m sure in flat design’s defense, it’ll agree that less is more.

Even with flat design making sudden waves everywhere, does it make designing a bit lazier? Is it a trend that we are all ready to embrace or do we still stick to a more realistic and functional User Experience that is easier for end users to comprehend? Are we reverting to our old ways once again? And will the flat design era be monumental enough to allow us to explore new grounds on designing for usability and branding?

With that being said, flat design does help out with resources when it comes to printing, scaling, and adapting to other canvases. Using flat design also depends on the company’s objectives as well as the type of company. Assuming that you’re part of the HSC Community, it’s understood that using flat design for a professional health organization might not carry over well. For example, full page colors such as this are much harder for us to pull off, especially since an empty template with a white background is always our starting point; this also limits us to some extent.  That’s not to say we can’t try our best as designers to make pages different or modern, we’re just presented with a different set of challenges than those who design and create with a blank canvas in front of them.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to design as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But in this case, I see beauty in the form of flat design. In all, I just think it’s an ubiquitous trend that demonstrates how impactful flat design can be our culture today. Just as over the top flash websites, Napster, and Razr flip phones that once consumed our lives, today’s teenagers and their need for posting their lunch on Instagram is just as analogous. This too shall might pass.

 

You can certainly see how influential flat design has become all around you. Below are some ‘before and after’ examples of company logos that have decided to transition towards a more simplistic or flattened design.

old_pepsi_logo pepsi logo NEW

usatodaylogos

dolphinsrebranding

thebucks