There’s an emerging trend in website design driving website managers to rethink their strategies. Many have switched from building sites that have visual depth and third-dimension elements to stripped-down versions that resemble a flat, single-surface viewing experience. This flat design is one of the hottest trends in web design to pop up across the web in 2016. But is this one of those trends that is going to spread like wildfire and then burn itself out, or is it here to stay?
Let’s look at why this web design model is currently trending and what the future holds for flat design for websites.
Flat Isn’t Boring, It’s Functional
To better understand what flat website designs is, you have to understand what it isn’t. With flat design, you won’t see some familiar stylistic elements that are prevalent with skeuomorphic design, like glow effects, shading, subtle textures, and gradient coloring that draw the eye to buttons and key content.
This example from Creative Bloq succinctly illustrates the different between the two:
Instead of impressing users with fancy fonts that pop off the page, flat designers take a more minimalistic approach that values function over fanciness and fluff. Computer-savvy consumers today are looking for a responsive brand, not one that has to hold their hand and guide them around their website—like they had to in the past.
When drop-down menus, online forms, or social share buttons first appeared, people were unfamiliar with these design elements and had to be helped out. For instance, the fields in a form needed to guide you by saying “First name” or “Type your e-mail address here.”
Nowadays, most people intuitively know how to get around a web page, so the simplicity of flat design is became popular. Oak.is provides an exceptional example of a fully functioning, user-friendly website that uses flat design. And graphic designer Cristina Style showcases some of her flat design work on Behance:
Flat Is a Step Backward Toward the Future
Everyone knows that history repeats itself, whether you’re talking about fashion trends, marketing campaigns or hairstyles. The concept of flat website design isn’t new, it’s just taken on a fresh, 21st century tone and attitude, one that resonates with Millennials and the millions of people tethered to their smartphones and mobile devices.
Speaking of mobility, those mini screens demand bigger text and larger images—which are both key elements in flat design. The rise of responsive design for mobile web viewing necessitated a need for two-dimensional websites that depend more on unique colors and shapes than realistic-looking three dimensional graphics and moving GIFs that are popular on skeuomorphic design.
In addition to efficient responsive design and a sleek appearance, faster page load time—which is crucial on mobile devices—is another advantage to flat design for websites. Built by Buffalo does a good job of using color combinations and unique shapes to deliver a simple, streamlined web design packed with value-added content to enhance user experiences.
Flat Respects User Intelligence
Early WordPress blogs and webpages were built based on the premise that users didn’t know their way around the web. In a world where people have their first online experiences playing games on Mom’s iPhone or Samsung Galaxy as a toddler, it is safe to assume almost everyone knows where and how to find menus and CTA buttons. With that mindset, it’s easier to see why content-headline separation, grid layout, and simple fonts take precedence over textures and designer labeling to guide users around your site.
Responsive, mobile-optimized, and totally user-friendly, Pandora’s blog page deserves applause for incorporating all the key elements of flat website design. It is simplicity personified: relevant content, plenty of white space, and beautiful images that inspire and motivate readers in a bare-bones package. Even their home page has all the information first-time visitors and followers need to create a station above the fold, no scrolling required.
Check out these 40 flat web design examples for more inspiration.
Flat Design: Passing Fad or Here to Stay?
According to Web Designer Depot, 68% of web designers say that flat design is here to stay, although they believe the design concept will continue to evolve—as it did with first laptops and then smartphones. Users demand responsive, agile, forward-thinking brands to meet their expectations for fast, easy-to-use tools that enhance their daily lives.
When you build a website, you have to answer those demands to stay competitive and thrive in a fast-paced marketplace. So you may want to review your own web pages with a critical eye to ensure that your pages are simple, with crisp, clean lines and superior content.
Anytime technology, or web design models, gets stale, it will stimulate innovation. Like most trends this one probably has an expiration date, but no one knows when it will arrive or exactly what it will look like—so for now, it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay.
Staying competitive in a rapidly changing, always evolving marketplace isn’t easy. Remember, even if you build the most beautiful, responsive, user-friendly website, you can’t serve your customers if you don’t have a reliable, agile web hosting partner—like Bluehost.