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What is Flat Design

Allen 28 January 2015



We were once in the age of embracing the reality of Skeuomorphic design, or a false reality. In it are textures, drop shadows, gradients and more to make things appear visually real. Now to simplify things all that has to be done is to take out these extra “realism” effects. Introducing “flat design”, not a new artistic approach, but one that is catching steam in every day design. Simple without the 3-D feel. A 2-D concept. Mix in bold fonts, colors that are vibrant and shapes that are simple then you have flat design. Everyone is talking about iOS 7 taking on this approach just as Windows has embraced it. But really, flat design has been around. Here and there. Now it’s just getting wide-stream attention in this present time of updated and newer technology.

When it comes to web design, logos, business cards and ads flat design has and will be taking up the spotlight. For how long, no one really knows. One would think that this design method wouldn’t be hard to accomplish, but in our opinion creating flat design can be challenging when it seems so simple.

Looking For or Creating a Flat Design?

HookLead Logo - Flat Design Comparison

As you see above, we took our HookLead logo and simplified it by taking out the gradients and changing the color palette. While it may seems that flat design is simple you should know there are a couple of things to note:

Simplicity at it’s best – You should keep the design simple. Logos, icons or websites. Simple, minimal. No more three dimensional effects such as shadows and textures that add depth. Keep it 2-D. Shapes should be clean, straight lines, round or squared edges.

The color palette – Typically you’ll see flat designs with vibrant colors. The palette can be bright which compliments the simplicity. Play with the combinations of high contrasting colors. Leave gradients behind or use much less of it.

Typography & Copy – It is important to apply typography in a simple manner with flat design. Sans Serif and font weights are common. Don’t go overboard with typefaces as it should match the design visually. When it comes to copy your text should stick with simplicity at mind. Less of it.

Sounds simple, right? Less is more.

To Be Real or To Be Flat?

Honestly, that really depends on you as a business or as a designer. It is something to discuss for certain projects or overall branding. You’ll know if you need to use flat design or not. Often you’ll see brands experimenting with trends because it brings the attention that they need. So use it where you see best.

Once as everyone enjoyed a realistic feel it goes back to a common thought process. When something becomes popular and widely-recognized it will have reached it’s top and begin to decline. Then clear the way for something new to appear in the scene. Whether if this is a common trend, flat design is being embraced. So if skeuomorphic design leans more for reality, and flat design is just as it sounds then what’s going to be next as a trend? Semi-Flat?