Why Flat UI is Here to Stay

Good design leads to conversion. Flat UI has become essential in creating successful user experiences, particularly since the dawn of e-commerce. Simple, aesthetically-pleasing and functional design goes hand-in-hand with user needs and current products.

Flat design offers a minimalist approach, opening up clean and crisp edges, bright colors and two-dimensional illustrations. These elements contribute to engaging users and providing commercial gains for online businesses. Poorly considered UI and UX will see customers go elsewhere. In effect, good design is becoming standard.

With Growing Technologies Comes Big Change

With functionality demands changing alongside growing technologies, the web has evolved in leaps and bounds since 1989. Consider where we started:

Flat UI Design

As we moved through the 1990s, websites took on new design that would be deemed “questionable” today. However these designs were typical of the time:

Google beta; Flat UI Design

flat ui design

McDonald's Flat UI Design

Functionality: The Catalyst for Great UI

The most significant part of the changes in web design (specifically over the past six to seven years) has no doubt been rooted in how we access the internet. With greater opportunities for internet access and faster connections, we’ve been able to create smarter, more functional designs. These shifts both propel and impact how we process content as users, as well as how design has had to adapt to keep up.

This said, a key change in design is a direct result of our device progression over the past seven years. From clunky desktops, to iPads and smart phones, design has morphed with consumer expectations – just as digital design simultaneously reflects this product development.

flat ui design

Last year the design of iOS7 cemented why flat UI is here to stay: simplicity and commerce.

Contemporary devices are becoming cheaper and being used by wider audiences. Flat UI design responds to the physical proportions that are being used and the cultural changes regarding access to technology.

Schools and hospitals are using mobile devices to educate and iron out communications issues and work out kinks in their infrastructures. Not only does flat UI align itself with good design of products, but it does this though cultural (and commercial) demands.

UI Design: More Than “Just a Trend”

Steve Jobs famously instructed the design world that “design isn’t just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” By stripping back the design and making functionality as a core concern, a purer and more complete look-and-feel can emerge.

Industry giants Apple and Microsoft, as well as digital designers around the globe are designing with user-experience at the heart of every design decision. Who will be using this application? How will they use it? Does it respond to different user types? From typography, wireframing and color proportions, design must now cater for all. Flat UI simplifies this process, which is why it will continue to gain prominence in the years to come.

Superstar Flat UI Examples

If you’re not well-versed in flat UI, it’s safe to say you witness examples in your daily life…

Many of the global brand giants consistently use flat UI to communicate their messages. It’s popular via web platforms, and it’s also helpful when delivering corporate messages – particularly with a UCG focus. Simple design works better for this, as less is more.

Nike, Flat UI Design

Nike is arguably the world’s biggest sports brand. With a vast business empire across a range of products and sports categories, their use of design and flat UI has helped them to establish their brand presence and personality across a wide mixture of sports sectors. The primary Nike domain is responsive, working well across both desktop and mobile devices, and placing the user at the center of the experience.

Nike’s simple, strong visual identity is enhanced with bold images and a simple composition, which lends itself to a user-centered experience.

Starbucks; branding, flat ui

Starbucks, another leading brand, incorporates flat design to create a seamless digital experience for both desktop and mobile users. With a clean design and clear calls-to-action, the website is very user-focused with key functionalities.

Strong brand guidelines and simple interfaces allow content to speak for itself. Flat UI supports and accentuates the images and copy to help the user navigate seamlessly, while incorporating effective calls to action.

Where Next: The Burning Questions of Interactive Design

As flat UI has emerged from the change in devices we use day to day, the question is perhaps, What type of device will come next?, rather than, What design trends will emerge? …

After the smartphone and tablet, what’s next? We can predict that devices will keep trending slight and portable and that flat UI will continue to be vital as retina screens become ever more popular. Beyond that, it’s a case of asking, How can my design influence the UI to create the simplest and most enjoyable experience for users of my work?

The internet and the practice of designing for the web are arguably in their infancy. Flat UI will continue to evolve as devices become smarter and mobile browsing surpasses desktop navigation within the next 18 months. It’s been twenty-five years since Tim Burners Lee invented the World Wide Web, which begs the question: What will contemporary digital design look like in another quarter-century? 

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