Flat Design is Making a Comeback 20-05-2013

Essentially a minimalist approach to smooth visual design, flat design is a style that avoids graphic elements of no noteworthy value to a template's structure. Basically, all forms of decorative abstract elements - including, for example, reliefs, gradients and volumes; shadows, bevels and addition of other three-dimensional attributes - is left out and instead replaced with basic, simple solids.

Focusing on lots of solid colours, typography and an altogether simpler use of varying UI elements, flat design is nothing new. Having been quite popular a few years ago, it now seems to be coming back with a vengeance. It seems like 2013 is the start of what may one day be known as the era of the flat design.

Flat Design and Skeuomorphism

Before drawing a comparison between these two types of design, it may help to look at what exactly Skeuomorphism is. Basically, it is a form of design that borrows a particular feature - usually from the past - whether it still has functionality or not. It is in essence a physical design or ornament copied from an object that was originally created using another technique or material.

A good example of this can be seen in Apple's iBook app, which, when opened, confronts users with a 'real' bookshelf. Fairly popular in recent years, this type of design now seems to be on the decline.

Although next to know research on the actual differential effectiveness of skeuomorphic vs. flat design has been conducted, the divide between the two schools seems to be growing ever wider.

This is quite funny, to be perfectly honest, when considering that when a designer creates a button in flat design, it will still look like a real button - effectively still making this button a copy of something real. In other words, the inconvenient truth is that flat design is still in many ways skeuomorphic.

All said and done, flat design is simply another one of many different ways and methods of treating information. Web designers can be found all over the world, and as part of an ever growing community, they are able to share their thoughts, ideas and more freely and without regard for existing skill levels.

Whether this is really going to be the era of flat design remains to be seen, but the ability to share and learn from others certainly makes this the most exciting, informative and fruitful era to be working in Web design and development.