With modern web page design trends constantly evolving, flat UI design seems to be at the forefront right now with the Metro UI from Microsoft setting the standard and iOS 7 software UI from Apple following close behind. Countless other companies, including Google, are beginning to follow this hot graphic trend as well. Now let’s delve into what flat design is and why is makes sense to use it with responsive sites.
Essentially, it’s the removal of any decorative elements that are meant to make objects on the page look three-dimensional, such as textures and drop shadows from the interface. Instead, it follows the minimalistic aesthetic principle using simple elements like typography, iconography, and flat colors to emphasize content while doing away with clutter on the page. Inspired by Swiss graphic design from the 1940’s and 1950’s that was built around typography, this minimalistic approach to web design is all the rage now with quality content and legibility taking precedence over unnecessary site decoration and the illusion of three-dimensional space.
Take a look at the comparison below between Apple's original skeuomorphism UI and their newer flat UI.
The “less is more” approach to this style of design not only provides better clarity on the webpage for the user with more open space, but it also allows for faster site load time due to the small file sizes needed for the design. With only the necessary elements included on the page and all the extra fluff removed, websites structured around flat design are bound to be much faster. This is a huge benefit of using flat UI design considering how important fast site load times are in this day and age.
Flat UI web design and responsive design go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not only are these two web trends hot right now, but they also play together very nicely. The blocky layout of flat design makes it easy to break down and rearrange page elements across devices when the screen is resized with responsive design. Rows and columns of page content can shift around smoothly when different screen resolution breakpoints are reached. The use of flat objects with responsive breakpoints tends to look much nicer and more fluid than having cluttered, decorative page elements scatter around to accommodate for a different screen size.
As mentioned earlier, the simplicity of flat UI design interfaces allows for smaller file sizes and faster load times which allow for much more efficient responsive resizing. Also, with website browsing on mobile devices becoming more popular, it is easier to produce crisp designs on smaller screens using flat colors and a minimalistic elements than it is with extra imagery and additional elements such as shading.
With the perks of using responsive design ranging from using a single code base to having faster load times and keeping design consistency across all devices, flat UI design is a magnificent supplement to keep your website interface sleek, modern, and consistent.
Check out some of these resources with examples of websites that leverage flat UI design:
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