Flat design is all the rage, especially since Apple’s new iOS 7 will enable about a gajillion people to look at it every day come the fall. I could write an extensive post on what flat design is, but the good people at designmodo(among others) have already taken care of that. I encourage you to read the post, because they do a nice job explaining the concept, both in writing and with graphic examples.
Flat graphics from one of my recent presentations
What I would like to convey is a few reasons why understanding flat design is important for mobile and web development.
Apple is doing it. This might sound like I drink from the Apple Kool-Aid (admittedly, I do…I am a convert), but arguably people expect Apple to be the bellweather for hardware and software design innovation. Leo, our senior tech lead, opined that actually Microsoft employed flat design first with Windows 8, but it was too radical for immediate acceptance. Dominic thinks Microsoft users tend to be a bit behind the curve when compared to Apple users, with a higher reluctance to adjust to major changes. I will chip in that I don’t think the populace is willing to accept that Microsoft can possibly innovate “better” than Apple. And that is why Apple is important in this horserace.
Yahoo’s gorgeous weather app will be integrated with iOS7.
People are now familiar with mobile technology. We understand swiping and pinching and toggling and scrolling and selfies and slingshotting a yellow bird into a green pig. As slightly more enlightened beings, we can handle the sophistication of design that is gesture-based rather than a visual road map of what to do next.
Mobile is influencing web. Flat design isn’t exclusive to mobile apps. I regularly visit the aptly named The Best Designs for inspiration, and if you stroll through the site gallery you’ll see that a vast majority of highlighted websites employ the simple elements and principles of flat design—purposeful and lean typography, minimalism, longer page scrolling, deliberate color choice, gorgeous-yet-understated photography and imagery, inforgraphicism (showing with pictures instead of telling with words…I just coined that, feel free to use it), and the absence of graphic “bells and whistles”: beveling/shadowing/reflecting/etc.
Screen grab from Scytale.pt.
Side note: People have strong reactions to flat design, both positive and negative. Many of our more senior tech people utterly bristle at the idea of the long scroll web page and pared down design, explaining that it is “old school.” To which I say, like fashion, everything comes back into vogue. At some point in our lives we all have chosen to wear bellbottoms and neon, man.
For some more examples of flat design, visit http://designmodo.com/flat-design-examples/.
And for a laugh, the fine folks in Tumblr’s universe reimagine the world through the eyes of Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, Jony Ive: http://jonyiveredesignsthings.tumblr.com/.