everything’s gone flat

By in graphics, UX, web design on 4 March 2014

Sharp-eyed users may have noticed that web design trends have gone a little flat recently. Blame Apple – they started it with a radical new look for the iPhone and iPad with iOS-7.

This is Flat Design. Web graphics has a different look – simpler, more uniform and modern. Apple got a real pasting though. People said things looked crude, dumbed down.

But Apple was right. Again. Those old-style icons look dated and really old fashioned now. What flat design did was make graphic artists and designers think about simplicity again. The challenge was to make something very simple, beautiful.

Flat design is evolving. We’re now seeing a development fork called Long Shadow icons. Here’s the old Chrome browser icon. Its a classic shaded shadowed button-style.

The old Google chrome logo as a 3d-shaded button
This is the kind of look graphic designers sought to achieve when presenting or creating a new logo or icon. Designs like this looked exciting when they first appeared.

Buttons like this take a considerable amount of design steps and layers to construct. But they’ve been over-utilised on the web to the point they appear ordinary.

Here’s the same icon, this time using a flat design. The idea is to create a cleaner, much less contrived appearance. Everything now looks very different, doesn’t it?

A flat rendering of Google's Chrome browser

Chrome’s new design retains the familiar colour palette and layout, but applies flat design surfaces to the overall image.

Personally, I feel that Google’s restyle meets its brief successfully. Its a great example of what a considered flat design can achieve. Its clean, the brand’s clearly identified and feels relaxed.

Like it or loathe it, we’ll be seeing flat design appear on a lot more things now!