Flat design is all about taking a minimalistic approach to designing websites and emphasizes usability more than before. The concept of flat design features clean and open spaces with crisp edges, bright colours and two-dimensional or flat illustrations.
In this approach, ornamental elements are viewed as unnecessary clutter. If something serves no functional purpose, then it is a distraction from user experience. This is the reason for the minimalistic nature of flat design.
This approach may lack the flashy design style seen in previous years such as all singing and all dancing flash animations and friendly pop ups, and skeuomorphism or realistic design that came afterwards. This doesn’t mean this approach is boring.
Far from it! This approach makes use of bright and contrasting colours, and not just the restrictive colours of old mind, but a whole range of colours. This makes your illustrations and images, as well as buttons and links show up on backgrounds and grab attention of the user and guide their eyes in terms of what to do on your website, where to click, and what areas of the webpage they are viewing will do.
Minimalism can be applied to imagery and this contributes to flat design’s functional character. Simple images will convey the intended message more quickly than detailed illustrations. Images such icons can indicate pretty standard actions or purposes and so everyone can easily understand them.
For example the simple icons for the Twitter and Facebook that are found in the header footer of all web pages tell the user what they will do.
Microsoft was one of the first companies to apply this design approach to its interface. It was seen by some as a backlash against the popular skeuomorphic design that Apple kicked off with its iOS interface. But with the launch of iOS7 Apple has released the most dramatic change to its software since the iPhone first surfaced. The most notable change is the flat design.
Why is this approach so popular? Many users and designers sum up the answer to this in two words – the user experience.
Flat design is made to be user friendly. We all hate having to sift through clutter and unnecessary things in web page to get to what we want. Flat design seeks to remove all this so that we can quickly and calmly, and enjoy doing so even though we all are all so busy in this day and age.
Another reason why flat design is popular is the philosophy of creating original and engaging content as a great way to enhance the user experience. Since Google changed its algorithm with the Google Penguin and Panda updates the case for this has increased.
Flat design is more than likely here to stay as more and more companies both big and small move in this direction to improve user experience.