Is flat design a revolution or a passing trend?


There’s a lot of buzz around flat design. The supporters around the world are all gung-ho about flat design, the amazing advantages. The strongest positive being how it forces UI/ UX thinkers to grow to the next level of creating engaging experiences, while keeping the jazz at the minimum.

The Lean Ready team gets you some brilliant answers from champions around the world who shared their expertise on Quora!

Lets begin with the most upvoted answer:

Tom Elliot

Flat design represents neither a trend nor a revolution; though it is perhaps part of design evolution.  Current Flat Design represents the design profession’s pendulum of taste swinging between what could be called Additive Design and Subtractive Design.  We may observe this pendulum over time within large design departments or across the industry as a whole.

In the normal course of events, individual designers and architects tend to add stuff – new visual elements, novel interactions, more exciting colors, etc.  In time, these elements tend to propagate and pile up as visual clutter.  Eventually a tipping point is passed and a movement arises to clean up the design by removing unnecessary noise.  Flat design strikes me as a subtractive design movement.

What is interesting to me is that the flat conversation surrounds Apple’s experience (which hasn’t really nailed it) instead of, say Google or Netflix who do simple far better.  The ultimate expression of simplicity is economy, doing no more than is necessary, not style.  In my view, Apple is doing a simple style.

Jesse Lashley

Flat design is based in the idea of simplicity, which is not a trend. The style itself is very much in fashion in user interface design right now, but it has a long history in print. Quality print design has been built around decluttering and stripping away elements that aren’t important for ages.

I think on-screen design is finally progressing to where design as a whole has been all along. We got sidetracked for a little while; the unprecedented complexity of the medium required nerds and hackers to make it work properly, and those people didn’t always value simplicity. We got whiz-bang effects and gaudy proofs of concepts.

But now both technology culture and design culture are becoming pop culture (thanks, Apple!). The techies and the designers are the same people. It’s no wonder that we’re moving away from elements that are there without a purpose to justify them.

Michael McWatters

I don’t think of flat as being new at all. The cave paintings of Lascaux were flat. The art of the Egyptians was flat. The geometric shapes of Islamic art were flat. Bauhaus was flat.

Software design traditionally employed skeuomorphism as a way to help users adapt to interactions on a flat display: real world attributes like depth, texture, and lighting effects were thought to aid affordance.

Now, though, users are comfortable with a flat-interaction paradigm; they no longer need skeumorphic cues to guide them through most UIs. The information presented on-screen can now be as simple and minimal as the devices on which they are displayed.

So, is flatness a trend? Sure. It’s a way to signal that software is new, sleek, modern, less clumsy and cluttered than the past. Does this mean depth won’t make a comeback? No. Design is cyclical. However, I don’t think depth will ever come back because it’s needed, because it helps users unfamiliar with a digital world navigate as though it’s a physical one. It will come back as way to differentiate one product from another.

Juan Gallardo

Based on comments that I have heard from developers, it seems more like a trend.

When you are in a rush to push a product you do not want to waste too much time designing. Especially when you need to validate an idea. When validating an idea, it is mind numbing to have people discuss your font choice and other things like that. But when what you have looks standard, the focus goes back to the content and functionality.

Metro makes it really easy to be half-ass at responsive design. Most designers just make boxes that expand the element that keeps the same color.

I have seen some very attractive sites with metro UI.

But most are very generic. And few designers can give a valid reason and will admit to just doing it because “it is the current trend.”

Via Onimisi Onipe

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