Love it or hate it, every website and app owner wants to be a part of the flat design movement. With the hotly anticipated iOS 7 release coming this week you can be sure that the demand from clients for flat design will be more common.
Don’t get us wrong, we love flat design, but we also love a whole range of other design styles (illustrative, typographic, retro, dark, colourful and corporate to name just a few). Design trends come and go and whilst a flat design may look great for a time, applying it to your project for the sake of it may mean that it ends up looking like every other ‘cool website’ out there. It’s important to realise that flat is just that – a trend.
Make sure to use it in the right context not because you want too, the latest trend is not necessarily going to suit your next design project. Think about the project in-hand and come up with a style that suits – of course it should look new and up-to-date (that’s a given) but ‘trendy’ isn’t always how a company needs to be perceived. Take our latest project as an example – yes it’s predominantly flat but at the same time it’s gritty and edgy. Is it ‘trendy’? Probably not. But it has been designed to appeal to the target market, not designed to follow the latest trend.
Try mixing it up if you want to use flat elements in your design, don’t be afraid to introduce other styles too. Apple may of ditched it’s heavy use of skeuomorphism but if you take a closer look at the new iOS7 it’s still there subtly. For example the use of shadows are used to lift windows and buttons to give a visual hint that they can be moved, pressed or interacted with. Not everything has to look lifelike (users are cleverer than that), but design that echoes some sort of physical real-world objects still remains effective. By adding subtle shadows either blurred or hard edged to lift interactive elements off of the screen will help users identify these from other flat elements.
The launch of iO7 has done a great job in educating website and app owners. No longer are we getting asked for more gradients, 3D effects and that dreaded and dated ‘Web 2.0’ approach – they want ‘flat’. By starting out flat it leaves us a great canvas that we can build on.
Think back, try evolving older trends and mix them with modern styles, you’ll soon find that your designs have a fresh feel but they’ll also start to look different to anything else out there.
Here are some great examples of flat design with a twist, they might not be to everyone’s taste but they have been designed for the end user not to follow a trend.
Brooklyn Soap Company
Where flat meets gritty, illustrative and grungy.
Simple layout, bold photography with subtle skeuomorphic elements enhancing calls to action.
Dodge & Burn
Not typical of the new flat design style. An elegant and well considered design using crisp typography, subtle graphics and beautiful imagery.
Introducing photographic elements to work in harmony with the flat interface creates a unique look.