Flat And Thin Are In

Print Version
Share to a friend

In the last several years, we’ve seen a rapid shift in software and app interface design, from 3-D

and skeuomorphic to flat and minimal. Although this trend has become nearly ubiquitous, let’s take a moment to

consider how we got here and what influence it’s having on interface design as a whole. Additionally, I’ll

share some tips and considerations on designing flat interfaces.




















What Happened? Link


So, how did the collective consciousness swing from a love of all things textured, beveled

and drop-shadowed to a desire for flat colors and simple typography? Many factors have fuelled this transition,

but here are a few that stand out.




As a constantly connected culture, we deal with a nonstop flow of information, some of it important and

relevant, most of it not. We are constantly evaluating, filtering and, of course, creating content, and it all gets

pretty exhausting. In addition, much of our content consumption has moved to devices with small screens,

thus exacerbating that feeling of overload. Becoming overwhelmed is all too easy, and a

reduction of clutter in a user interface (UI) can create a little visual zen.

















In a similar trend, a lot of disruptive Web apps and services are offering highly focused tools with extremely

limited feature sets. Whereas traditional software developers tend to load their products with a glut of

features to justify the high price tags, this shift towards focused micro-apps favors simplicity over feature

set. Simpler apps mean simpler interfaces.


















As so often happens when new devices and technologies enter the market, we become fascinated by what

they can do and how we can advance interactivity. This interface frenzy is usually followed by a return to a

focus on content. Media consumption, whether of text, audio or video, is probably the activity we engage

in most on our devices, and for that use case, we just want the interface to get out of the way.




As smartphone and tablet adoption has rapidly penetrated all user demographics, concern about the

obviousness of controls has reduced. Whereas we once feared that users might miss a button if it didn’t

pop off the screen, we are now willing to explore subtler interactions. Windows 8 and Chrome for Android

even support touch commands that start off screen, without any visual indicator.