Not long ago, web designers around the world were habituated to use flashy design elements, gaudy graphics and meaningless gifs just to impress the visitors. Of course, this would make the website extremely heavy and sometimes visitors had to wait for 5 minutes to get the website loaded (don’t believe me? Fine, please do some researches about flash intro design then). It was a sad state of affair for website visitors as they would have to wait for minutes before they could find the information they were looking for.
Then came the change. Search Engines announced that they will be giving more importance to fast loading website in their result pages and then the mad scrambles began. Website owners started asking for simple websites so that their websites get loaded fast and thus retain their valuable rankings. This is how the concept of flat design came into being.
The idea behind the flat design was to simplify the concept of design to a certain degree so that the website doesn’t take too long time to get loaded. As the concept of flat design started gaining currency, web designers around the world have started embracing this trend as it helps them create websites that are more user friendly and search engine friendly.
What is flat design?
Before we start exploring different aspects of flat web design, we need to have solid understanding of what flat design is. Flat design has something to do with minimalistic design, but that doesn’t mean they are the same. Of course, both the trends put more focus on usability, clean interface, use of bright colors, shunning of gaudy designing elements etc, but at the same time they do have some stark dissimilarities.
Flat design is basically a backlash against the popularity of skeuomorphic design that centers on the concept of designing realistic illustrations to match real life objects. You will be surprised to know that the first company who embraced the flat design trend is none other than our very own Microsoft. What Microsoft was trying to do is to do away from the skeuomorphic design that was popularised by Apple. So it eventually came up with a designing style where icons like images are used as opposed to realistic images to give the design a refreshing makeover.
It is not Boring
One popular misconception about flat design is that it is boring but once you start exploring its different aspects you will realise the fact that it is far from boring. Graphical elements that usually serve no other purpose other than to increase the loading time of the website are deemed unnecessary in this design style.
The rule of thumb is to eliminate any designing elements that serve no practical purpose. So that means a website which is designed around the concept of flat design is going to have fewer graphical elements and that will lead to better User experience.
Since flat websites usually don’t have high resolution images or flashy designing element, it doesn’t necessarily mean that flat websites are inherently boring. Rather it is just the opposite. Start exploring some websites by visiting some popular CSS galleries and you will realise the fact that flat websites can be made beautiful by using some simple designing techniques like for example colourful background, simple contrasting illustrations, catchy call to action buttons.
One of the main advantages of using flat design is the fact that the websites are more users friendly. Flat Design does not advocate the use of detailed illustrations as they have some disadvantages for example, they are extremely complicated. If you use really complicated illustration, user will have a hard time understanding the meaning behind it. This is the reason why simple illustrations are used in flat design so that users can grasp the message easily and effortlessly.
Since the illustrations that are used in flat design have some similarities with icons, it helps web designers to send the message across to their targeted audience easily. By using solid colour backgrounds and catchy call to action buttons, you will be able to grab attention of the audience rather quickly, as people can easily relate icons with the roles that they are supposed to play.
How to Design a Stunning flat Website
Designing a flat website is not that complicated. All you have to do is to focus on simplicity. The idea behind this is to create a cohesive website that will give equal attention to the user friendliness of the design and also to the SEO friendliness of the template. However if you have no idea how to design and develop a website that will be centered around the concept of flat design, you need to read the rest of the post –
1# Colourful Color Palette
Flat design is the reason behind the resurgence of bright and colourful colour palettes. Since there is not much scope available to add different designing elements, web designers have to fall back on things like bold and bright colours, high contrasting images and big call to action buttons to grab the attention of the audience.
We need to make the design as clean and readers friendly as possible and the easiest way to enhance the readability of the website is by using simple font type. There is no need to use fancy fonts that will only make it harder for people to read the texts. So stick to standard web fonts like Calibri or any other San Serif fonts.
3# Ghost Button
Ghost buttons are all over the web these days. They are translucent, transparent and are surrounded by 1px solid colour and are often time placed against a high quality background image to capture the attention of the targeted visitors. Sometimes designers use bold and solid background and use Ghost button to maximise the impacts. Ghost buttons work best when you are designing a simple website that does not have too many design elements.
4# Long Shadow
Use of long Shadow has gained immense popularity of late. The shadow should be positioned at 45 degree angle. The edges are usually hard to create the impression of long shadow. Sometimes, it may look awkward but this is how it is. In majority of the cases, the shadow extends beyond the illustration to replicate the shadow effect in real life.
- Best Flat Website Design Examples
- Is Flat Design a Web Design Standard That’s Here to Stay?
- Flat Web Design: Trend Or Revolution?
- Page, Tom.“Skeuomorphism or flat design: future directions in mobile device User Interface (UI) design education.” International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organisation 8.2 (2014)