Flat Design Is Going Too Far
Digital Next | Industry Savvy

Flat Design Is Going Too Far

on / by Oliver McGough

Flat Design was the design trend of 2013. Momentum is showing no sign of slowing as more and more sites jump onto the idyllic san serif bandwagon.

With so much going for it, it’s perhaps justified that Flat design stands as the design trend of the minute. So, you ask, why do I think flat design may have gone too far?

It is hard to argue a case against it. Flat design brings with it everything that is appropriate for the modern web. Simple, minimalist web pages. This simpleness translating to a medium that is relatively easy to implement. The use of low contrasting colour pallets are easy on the eye. Sans serif fonts creating a feel of cleanliness.The removal of the ‘bells and whistles’ leaves us only what is important: Colour, Shape and Content. A presentation method which is effective at being both minimalist and beautiful. And with the rise of mobile computing, minimalism is a key advantage. Reducing the stress on low power systems.

Net Magazine recently released nominations for their annual Net Awards. The chief prize going to agency of the year. Looking at the sites in question, it is difficult to argue Flat Design has taken the world by storm (See here for an album of the nominees, provided by Reddit user awkwwward).

However, this also raised some of the major issues I have with Flat Design. These are the best in the business, yet they encapsulate my 3 major pet peeves with the Flat World:

Extreme Minimalism

The ethos of flat design is to implement ‘Swiss Style’ design philosophy onto the web. A philosophy that places heavy emphasis on minimalism amongst other things. Don’t get me wrong, minimalism has it’s uses. It has served to tidy up, and condense sites. Cleaning them, creating a user friendly atmosphere. In the meantime, also reducing stress on lower power devices, such as mobile, by creating simplistic web pages.

Minimalism is a fine line however. It is all too easy to overstep the line where minimalism becomes a featureless site.

(Source: Mark Boulton Design)

We begin with an example from Mark Boulton Design. A renowned web design studio, and a Net Award nominee. You’d expect them to be showcasing their talent on their own site. Instead we are presented with an ultra-minimalist spectacle. Creativity seems lacking. Flat, boring colours with basic text explaining what they do. It may be enough to fulfil its purpose, but does little to inspire us with their talents.

That is not to say this extreme minimalism doesn’t have it’s place, Google has done it for over a decade. It just has to be in the correct context. I don’t think a web design agency, where creativity is key, quite fits that.

Mobile First Design, Taken too Literally.

The great, if not the greatest, selling point of flat design is its accommodation for mobile devices. With over 28% of web traffic now mobile, only a fool would not ensure their site was optimised as such. Flat design’s previously mentioned minimalism drops intense graphics, and process-heavy items. Favouring a clean and basic design.

This is all great. Many designers however, seem to forget about the medium on which the majority of the web is still consumed. The humble PC.

(Windows 8’s Metro UI)

Windows 8 is the obvious example. Microsoft attempted to create a uniform experience across all devices. Utilising their ‘Metro’ interface on Mobile, Tablet, Xbox and of course PC. Metro had shown great success on Mobile, Tablet, and Xbox, and the eventual movement to PC was an inevitability.

An inevitability met with much disdain – you either love it, or you hate it. With hidden off screen gestures, and on screen gestures more suited to fingers than a mouse, Windows 8 provides a usability nightmare for any new user, or experienced user. The clunky Metro ‘Start screen’, ‘Apps’ obviously designed for tablet with little or no regard for PC, oversized text, amongst many other wrong doings.

All of these apply to many modern websites, designed to offer a ubiquitous experience over all devices. Unfortunately, if that experience appears far superior on one device over another, why handicap it – especially if it is your largest market? The user has to be first.

Fear of Breaking From Normality

Flat design has seen so much success of late, everyone is desperate to jump on the bandwagon, or risk being left behind. We’re at a stage where if your site isn’t flat, you’re not keeping up with web standards. You’re living in the dark ages. Your site is a failure.

It is no surprise then, that everyone is jumping on – joining in. With the redesign goldrush constrained by relatively strict rules on what Flat Design is, combined with other current web trends, we’re seeing a huge rise in generically designed sites. Designers appear scared to do something different – at risk of not being current. This schoolgirl mentality is stifling creativity and innovation. We are seeing people play it safe in order to conform. Why change when everyone expects, and seems happy with flat design?

(Sources:Teehan+Lax, Meta Lab Design)

The two sites above are again nominees for thenetawards’ top prize. Two top web design agencies we would expect to be forging a creative path. Yet everything is so generic, so similar. These near-identical sites have nothing to do with one-another, other than being in the same industry. Yet the placement of elements is identical in both, down to menu options and company name/logo. Even the background image has stark similarities.

The scramble to conform only serves to turn each site into a template to be ever so slightly customized for the site it belongs to. Is this really what we want – a generic web?

Will Flat Design’s Popularity be Its Downfall?

Flat design has become the template for budding websites. We’ve seen it feature in a plethora of flattened redesigns of late (The New York Times, iOS 7, Flickr). There is no denying that great flat design really is great. That flat design certainly fulfils problems with ubiquitousness and touch interaction found in older styles.

The issue with flat design is that it has become too powerful. We’re at a stage where creativity is being stifled in preference of sticking to a template that ‘works’. Where sites are becoming generic, sites are conforming. Usability is being sacrificed because… flat design works right?

We’ve covered the issue of whether flat design is here to stay before. I’d certainly agree that its principles will have a lasting impression on the web and elsewhere. It has certainly been a welcome change from the messy skeumorphisms of the past. It just feels as if the internet has lost it’s ‘Wow Factor’. I’m becoming tired of being confronted by the same template site after site. It feels as if every designer is being handed a set of 8-10 WordPress templates to deal with, and adapting sufficiently.

Where’s the creativity gone, and when will it return?

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Article by

Oliver McGough

Passionate UX Designer and Marketer.

Share your thoughts

  • Alex Rose

    Great article, always good to challenge ;) I am a big fan of Flat UI design, especially around it’s capability to aid simple ways of completing complicated interactive tasks, but for Web/brochure-ware its an interesting challenge.
    Re thenetawards nominees – Someone recently remarked to me… ‘Is this Web design with good use of photography or just photography which is kinda interactive?’….

    • Oliver McGough

      Thank you kind sir :)

      Yea, I’d certainly agree. Flat Design has rightly taken the fore, no denying that.

      Ha, great remark! I think that encapsulates this trend perfectly. “Throw a beautiful picture on there, and voila beautiful site” …beautiful =/= functional…

  • Jan Van den Bergh

    Maybe flat design is going too far, but on several points the article is in my opinion misleading.

    E.g. The websites from Teehan+Lax and Meta Lab Design are far from similar, although the initial look is quite similar (especially on a screenshot). The experience (or feel in look-and-feel) of both websites was already very different to me. Even the home page felt quite different; static image versus movie, collapsed menu versus main navigation directly accessible, etc.

    I guess there is good reason for the overall structure to be quite similar; easy to use means that some level of familiarity is required.

    These sites are in my opinion (based on only a quick visit) both simple and easy, which is certainly not easy to achieve. Although I’m no design expert, they seem to challenge the status quo — I admit sometimes in very subtle ways — without becoming unintuitive.

    I am not a big fan of these all-encompassing images, but somehow it seams to work (on these websites).

  • Mark Allum

    “We’re at a stage where creativity is being stifled in preference of sticking to a template that ‘works’.”

    So are you suggesting that we ditch trends that are boring and uncreative, even if they work?

    Because I’m pretty sure if you told a client “well, your traffic has dropped x% since those last design changes, but at least I’m not conforming those boring trends” then they would not be sharing their money with you again.

    • Oliver McGough

      Cheers Mark, point taken.

      My point is that if the industry becomes too enamoured with one design, innovation stalls. Creativity will be sacrificed to continue conforming. The only way we can push forward and innovate is by risking with creative flair. If we continually use a template that works, we’ll just be stuck on the flat design treadmill forever. I’m not saying this will be the future – after all, Flat has dominated for barely a year.

      ‘The horse and cart worked perfectly well, why bother risk money on a motorised contraption that could never take off’

  • LJ

    Flat has its benefits, I’ll concede (I’m still not a fan) … but when we are choosing style over substance, and adopting a look to meet a trend, design fails.

    There was actually a lot about skeumorphism that worked well, too … when not taken too far.

    Flat is a fad. The pendulum will swing again, and some other influence will become the design darling …

  • Flat design it’s the best thing that happened to webdesign in the last years! It does not block creativity, it’s a challenge to display the information in a most efficient way. Web 2.0 was awful :)

  • Nicolas Schepers

    I agree that, while using Flat Design has many merits, flat designs do not have to look like each other all the time. The principles are fine and honest(mostly) but they should be used more creatively other than copy paste the same structure.

    Don’t fully agree with the ‘Mobile First Design’ argument, as Windows 8’s issues don’t originate from Flat Design. It’s rather because of a lack of proper, user-centred testing and trying to be too radical instead of listening to the users’ top tasks. They’ve done even Flat design wrong, as they hide important functionalities.

    Though it’s true when you look at the hamburger menu, which is being also used when viewing a website with the laptop, which not every users understands (mainly frequent mobile users). But that kind of overlaps with your point on extreme minimalism.

  • Oliver McGough

    Cheers for the input Nicolas :)

    The problem isn’t only with Windows 8, but with many new responsive site revamps. The sites often feel clunky without the benefit of touch. The NY Times site comes to mind, as does the new facebook revamp. Though I love the new designs, I can’t help but feel I’m intruding on a tablet’s app.

    Perhaps this just something to get used to overtime. After all, ubiquitousness is certainly beneficial, and upholds UX principles in attempt to keep the experience consistant. I just hope that attempted consistency eventually solidifies itself.

  • Jerry Burton

    Thanks, for the great reading! I was curious to know what your thoughts are as to where the industry heading next. What are your predictions as to what the next BIG Trend is…As far as Visuals go?

  • Flat Design is not a trend, it’s rather an evolution. This is why all websites are switching to Flat Design. And keep in mind that Flat and Minimal are not the same thing. You can have Flat Design without it being Minimal, or the other way around.

    But yes, I agree with you! Creativity is suffering a lot from this. Some of my clients even pointed that out to me. I still believe Flat Design is a good thing, but if we all copy the same layout as some frameworks dictate us.. That’s not creativity.

  • I’ve rather noticed this trend myself recently, I would never have thought flat design was bad necessarily? I suppose its that extension of instantly recognisable brand identity.

  • Tim

    I’ve been a software developer since the early 1980s, and have kept up to date with technologies, designs and trends over the years.

    I have to say, I have really been annoyed at the trend towards these “flat” interfaces (and I am really happy to have found your article, since my various searches for articles on the subject – using terms used by Google and Microsoft like “cards”, “tiles” etc. have turned up very little).

    I wouldn’t mind if these interfaces stuck to phones and tablets, but they have migrated to desktop sites and applications as well – places that, in my opinion, they do not belong. Even redesigns such as Microsoft Office’s “ribbon” interface seem overly simplistic to me.

    I like to see a LOT of information on a screen at once, a dense field of content, so that I can scan over it and find what I’m looking for easily. Things like Google’s new Play Store website interface, where all information is displayed in big colorful flat “cards”, where you can only see a few onscreen at the time (I suppose since they expect you’ll be flicking through them on a phone/tablet with your fingers) I find absolutely useless – I want to search for specific terms or comments or features, and it won’t let me… I am FORCED to act like I’m casually browsing on a tablet, not scanning for information on a screenfull of data, which I prefer.

    These bright, Kandee-Kolored Klown interfaces seem to me to be built to appeal to 4-year-olds, not adult eyes and sensibilities, and I hope at some point we go back to more sophisticated, information-dense interfaces.

  • Suzanne

    Thank you, Tim. As someone who must fact-check and quotation-check hundreds of sites each week, I have come to HATE these eye-crap sites. Can’t find a damn thing on them. Checking manuscripts takes me easily four times as long as it used to. I’d like to know who could possibly find this design an improvement, or tolerable, other than the designers jerking off over them.

  • I disagree with flat design not being minimal. It is minimal, it just generally does not have texture, yet. People call it flat design because it is generally easier to digest, in my opinion.

    I think the logical next step here is Conceptual Minimalism. This will begin happening when people decide that minimalist design without a concept or a big idea will begin to get lost in the millions of other minimalist designs out there.

    The idea of conceptual minimalism is that a concept will be expressed through design, with just enough art elements to communicate the concept, and no more.

    The job of the designer is to take what is happening now, whether good or bad, and find a way to make it better. The only way to make minimalism more interesting is to introduce a concept, then use the elements of art to make a design more appealing, but only until the concept is communicated. Then stop! LOL its not easy, but that’s why everyone isn’t doing it!

  • Henry Hode

    >>> ” Is this really what we want – a generic web?”

    Perhaps it is.

    After all, for many useful objects of everyday use, we have settled on some standard, usable, understandable, conventional designs, that all resemble each others. Think of doors, cars, scissors…

    And if elements on web sites with similar intent are placed in the same spots, it could be for the same reason that cars all have generally four wheels. Because it works well that way.

    And most users who are looking through several agency websites, say, to check if they want to work with them, would only benefit from not having to discover every time how their portfolio works.

    Most of the variability we see today on the web is a “forced” attempt to stand out, to attract the attention of users who, most of the time, could not care less of the cool animations or the menu that works illogically just in the attempt to be different. They are there to do something.
    Our job is to provide a consistent, predictable way for them to do so.
    If that means flat design and predictable sites. I am all for it.


  • Flat design is on the trend due to its simple shapes ,colors

    Its objectives focus on
    1) It emphasize on usage and its clarity.
    2) The limits of the screen and works with in the parameter
    3) It make websites more functional
    4) No edge on the screen
    5) Flat design limits down the visual elements to let expose the essential functionality

    KAOS build appealing,highly compatible designs which conveys the right image of business. Web designer team at hong kong website development company is full of skills and ideas that helps in scoring higher in designign and development field.

  • Julian

    I hate flat design. It is a huge step backwards – to a time before Windows 3.1.
    Even early Star Trek graphics were more interesting !
    Flat design seems more about fashion and image than function. I want to see a button that says “click me”. “Flat” websites are a real turn-off as they require a lot of mouse-trawling to find what’s clickable.

    Minimalism certainly isn’t “modern”. It’s been around since the ’60s (if nor before). Minimalism is just an excuse to be lazy, to cut corners (or rather to NOT cut corners….).
    Why the hell should I pay more for a perfectly rectangular table than one with the corners rounded – but say it’s “fashionable” and the mugs roll over….

    If you want people to re-visit your website then surely navigation to be both clear and interesting.

    Single colour rectangles make me think I’m at a site for pre-schoolers.
    Monotone and simplified icons are both dull and confusing. What the hell does three horiizontal lines mean?

    Here’s hoping that enough small businesses baulk at wasting money on a flat re-design.

  • Tino

    i’ve already used flat UI design for websites and i like the clean and plain colored geometric shapes without texture. It’s the context where it works and where not. On a website with 3D content and flat UI overlay it works good. It’s the right contrast to highly textured background, but in other cases like iOS 7 UI it was a nightmare. Like Tim wrote there is a problem with candy colorization and not intended classification of icons with the same popping orange for example. A user looks at and immediately see a pattern that doesn’t exist. The apps are not in the same class. Why is this happen on iOS 7? My thesis is a oversimplification in color palette (orange, white) similar surface area of white icons inside so you don’t have a chance to differentiate them from each other at first look, so the brain builds a pattern that’s not intended. Another issue is the symbolic iconic design, it’s too boring not outstanding. The old skeumorphism design don’t had this problem. Each icon was unique with rich texture. I also had to change my background picture on the smartphone, because the bad contrast with new flat design. Buttons don’t work as buttons anymore, because they have no depth with the wrong context. I think flat design will transform into a slightly more 3d looking design, but still flat, but with more depth and not pushed to the extreme.

  • Tino

    Hey Julian, i got also huge problems with functionality of flat design. My worst example is the change in iOS7. There are several drawbacks from the prior design. First the recognition of symbolic message of many icons is worse, it’s too abstract and they looking not familiar, second the not intended classification of icons because of a primary background color like orange for several icons, this combined with lack of texture in the icon (just white) leads to confusion or senseless search for the right app because of the perception everything is the same and it’s boring, yes totally boring. I’m going so far to say, flat design is the apologize for the lack the ability to design outstanding real good UI elements, which are unique, which are make a product unique.

    Additionally i’d changed my background because of bad color and brightness contrast. I had also problems in ultra flat UI to find the clickable elements, it’s not a good design for this purpose it needs a bit depth always. Because i don’t want first time hover over all elements too find the hidden treasure, stupid game. The earth isn’t flat, we’re not flat. I always preach to designers not follow the extreme trend, just give some smaller redesign but never forget the intention of the design, the function.

  • Migs

    Flat design is like a plague, a virus of conformity, killing usability in the name of fashion and profit.
    For mobile devices it certainly has some advantages, it goes from simplifying screens to saving some battery life… But the concept was pushed way too far and spreading it to desktop UIs is a huge usability step back.

    The truth is, most companies do not understand that in order to have the best user experience possible, you need to adapt your design to the device you are using. Or they do understand it but since it is more expensive they try to save some pennies by asking for a multi-device compatible interface. And sometimes it is even worse as they create an interface designed for mobile devices and try to make it work on a desktop devices! And there we go, usability is sacrificed for more profit…

    Worse comes to worst, companies managed to turn this capitalistic idea into a trend, knowing that something becoming trendy in the artistic world is like a landslide that would take over all web agency worldwide… Today, everyone has this stupid idea that if a design is not flat, it is a failure, a backward version of reality. “Your design is not flat? Haha you are a prehistorical idiot, unable to embrace change!”

    Then we have designers that are not only formatted to follow trends but they actually like it since it allows them to be lazy! “Oh yeah now I don’t have to bother with shadows and perspectives effects anymore! I can just draw some stupid rectangles with a 16 colors palette and they will be happy!”

    Now it’s like no one cares about usability anymore as long as we are trendy and able to save money when reaching the mobility market. We are all following one way stripped from most creativity and the worse is that we deeply believe that it is good for us. When did this brain-washing happened?!

    Remember this the next time you have to guess what is a button in a simplistic UI where you can hardly find what you are looking for among a mess of geometrical and colorful shapes…

    Excuse me if it’s not the future I had in mind.

  • Kevbo

    Great article! I am very tired of everything being centered around mobile first. Like others mentioned, I often feel like I am being forced to use a tablet/phone interface from my PC. I see more and more sites get re-designed with lots of ‘white space’ and large buttons that are easy for thumbs to press. However the information is spread so thin that you have to click/swipe/look all over just to get stuff that used to all be on 1 page. Very annoying in my opinion.

  • vape guy

    I pretty much disagree with this article and people who say things like “Flat design is used too much” or “Flat design is destroying creativity” or “People are only using flat design because it’s “trendy”. It’s a very narrow minded view about why decisions are made in the business world and the author comes across as inexperienced and juvenile with his attempt to paint everyone with such a broad “talentless, we just want to be trendy” brush.

    Sure, I will contest there are those who are creating sites with no real perspective on web design/content strategy/ui/ux/ia and are simply following the trend. This is true in pretty much any field …

    But a lot of other companies out there know exactly what they are doing and a flat/minimal design is the result of exhaustive research and testing and has proven to meet their business goals.

  • Drew

    As someone who does not design websites or mobile apps and who is just a customer/user, I *HATE* the flat/minimalist design. From a usage perspective, they are the same – instead of being easier to use with “cues” as to what’s clickable and what’s decoration, I constantly find myself having to pause and think too much to find the functional areas of a screen or page. It’s clear to me that minimalism/flat design is more for designers’ fancy and the quest to “do something different” than for usability and a seamless UI experience. Hate hate hate hate flat/minimalism and hate Jony Ive for ruining iOS. :)

  • Ibo Vis

    Good Design to me is a system, all about communication and usability. Great Design adds a touch of art or creativity to make it unique. The reason people are jumping on the flat design bandwagon is because it is the next step in design-evolution. The system is constantly learning and improving itself adapting to the current zeitgeist. Flat design is here simply because when done right it is superior when it comes to communication and usability. Great designers will use the flat design system to create great designs that are creative, unique and have personality. If you like the way flat design looks is a matter of personal preference.

  • D Marie

    Flat design is hot because it’s *cheap*. Any programmer/developer, i.e., anyone who’s NOT a designer, can now call themselves a designer (you just pick a color, and presto/bammo you’re site is designed!). Anything creative requires a true designer who’s spent years perfecting their craft and hence will CHARGE AN HOURLY RATE reflective of that. This fits in nicely with the other trend which is for companies to pay less and less in salaries (again, they expect a programmer/developer to be a graphic designer as well). I first noticed a similar phenomenon 15 years ago, when bad websites were appearing left and right; this was because programmers thought they could design just because they knew Photoshop. Eventually that work (or a good deal of it) came back to the graphic designers and we began to see nice websites (where the designer and programmer work in a team). Sadly, I don’t see that correction happening here.

  • Riz meri

    Flat design has gone too far in the wrong direction, i hate it so much that i refuse to use applications with flat ui, it’s been created by a bunch of hippies and became a trend because of some major companies desiced to adopt it like Microsoft, Apple and Google forcing most graphics designer to use flat design in thier designs. Every time some company convert thier design to flat it makes me so angry that i want to swear, like Spotify.. Tunein radio.. Duolingo… they had a perfect ui and then they messed it up completely with a hippie flat design. I use windows 7 and i love it, there’s no way on earth i’m going to use winows 8 or 10 or any newer versions if they had the same crabby design.

  • Jack

    I feel that, like in everything, a balance is necessary. Flat Design can be used in many ways and can be almost as unique and individual as any other design form. In this modern world of constant digital information, it is my opinion that a simple and clear way of presenting information is not only useful, but almost nessary.

  • Ogre Magi

    How do I upvote this article??

    Personally, I somehow just hate the “new” flat design… It all started with windows 8 and its horrible metro experience…

  • Adagio

    I remember the first time I saw Windows 8. The first thing that came to my mind was “is this a beta of the very first Windows ever?”, but when it dawned on me this was an actual screenshot of the final design of Windows 8 I was shocked. Did they fire the designers to save a few bucks?

    Not only is this flat style extremely ugly, the usability is often down the drain. As many already has mentioned it can be difficult to find the clickable items as clickable items often looks just like any non-clickable items. Often it can also be difficult to “read” the meaning of icons. When icons are only using two colors the icons can be hard to recognize as there are no depth.

    The only “good” thing about this flat style is that even programmers like me can easy make a trend design. No need to spend money on a real designer. I can just put a boring yellow box here, a mindlss lightblue box there and then add a bit of text, then I have created something using this trendy design. Not that I ever would go that way.

    I’m sticking with Windows 7 for now.
    I’m glad this flat design haven’t made an entry in the games I’m playing

  • Sharon

    Truly well said!

  • David

    Slapping a wingding on a primary colour square and calling it a button is not web design. Give me a few drop shadows and glossy buttons. Things were flat and boring in Windows 2.0 and looked better with every version until Windows Vista, then it’s been in decline ever since. There’s nothing wrong with a nice clean interface, but I don’t want to try to figure out what someone’s minimalist icons are supposed to mean.

  • There are plenty of terrible examples of flat design but I think the reason it works is BECAUSE of its simplicity, not inspite of it. If used well it can be quite elegant without falling into the abyss of over-minimalism. I may be biased because we’ve had great fun using flat design over on our site – it hasn’t been the basis of our entire website design, but we’ve really enjoyed creating characters using flat design (and the people we made them for seem to have dug them too). Super proud of our flat design gifs, e.g. http://blueant.in/gifs-flat-design-blueant/

  • Patti March

    I hate flat design, I hate mobile first.

    • The Darling Kinkshamer

      Why do you hate mobile first?

      • Patti March

        One example:

        A bank redesigned their site for mobile first. It has totally destroyed the ease of viewing information on the desktop. The large blocks of information are a total waste of real estate, not to mention a user’s bank balance shows up so large that it can be read across the room. Users have to scroll down the page to see two to three transactions.

        Just jumping on the mobile first bandwagon is not the right way to redesign websites.

        This is just one example. Mobile first without any thought for desktop or larger screens is just as bad as desktop designs without thought of user experience on a mobile phone.

        • Curt

          Mobile first and flat design aren’t the issue here. The issue lies with poor planning and bad designers (or over-controlling corporate leaders who don’t know anything about design).

          • gadsdengurl

            NO the issue lies with your eyes, which are not suited to flatness and expect SOME depth.. even a slightly raised menu bar is much more pleasing and less eyestrain. I won’t buy another Mac until they fix this problem.

          • Curt

            A differential in color can ease eye strain. There is no single way to do web design. It needs to be based on the client, product, service, etc. Sometimes flat design is a better choice than skeuomorphism. Mac doesn’t have a design problem, there’s nothing to fix.

  • sighmaster

    It’s a shame you deleted all the comments when you switched to the new site design…

  • Tarian

    I too hate (yes “hate”) flat design.
    It looks cheap, lazy, infantile and disrespectul. Lack of colour, depth and detail tells me that the host cares little about the user and usability and more about self, image and fashion.
    “Minimalism” is an excuse to take short cuts, to avoid craftsmanship and skill – whether in furniture or websites.
    If I land on a site to be greeted with one or more of the following I leave:
    * HUGE screen filling photo
    * excessive, unnecessary scrolling
    * acres of empty, glaring white space
    * grey text
    * few items in the menu bar and zero contents list
    * large, monotone slabs

    Too many sites have increased font size and line-spacing so that to see a meaningful quantity of info, my browser zoom has to be reset to 75% or 80%.

    “Mobile first” might be a tolerable approach – but only as long as desktop users are catered for with a distinct UI.
    Serious work involving side-by-side comparison of data or info is almost impossible on a tiny screen so “mobile first” represents a serious dumbing down.

    Claims that mobile visits have overtaken desktop visits are normally expressed as % – which may often hide the fact that desktop visits have fallen off a cliff after a site re-design.

    I’m not alone.
    NatWest Bank’s redesign prompted over 300 complaints – to a Forum that is hard to find.
    After MoneySavingExpert had nearly 150 detailed complaints about a redesigned forum, they retained the original format (but only if you log in.)

    Why do site owners allow designers to disregard the UX for desktop users????

    • Curt

      The “flat design” sites you’re looking must be doing it wrong. There’s a way to do it correctly that keeps a beautiful balance of color, imagery, and content. I am with you 100% in the case against lazy flat design, but overall – when done correctly – I love it.

      • Tarian

        With respect….. your reply misses the point. “beautiful balance of color, imagery, and content” leads on the aesthetic elements. What about ease of navigation – and “invitation to explore”?

        Too many sites start with a pretty picture – so HUGE that there is little info at first view (see comments here about bank sites).

        Add to that sites with very few OBVIOUS links – and you have a recipe for “bouncing” to other sites where the Visitor has to work less hard – and there is much more content visible to tempt him/her to stay.

        Until recently many sites had a “beautiful balance of color, imagery, and content” that were both inviting and navigable – often with nods to reality – with depth, shading, colour and more instantly recognisable links.

        The vast majority (actually I’ve yet to find an exception) of “Flat” sites are lazy and inward looking – as if to say “we care more about ourselves than our visitors”.

        • Curt

          Thanks for your reply. However, I don’t think that I missed your point. I think that you’re being exclusive, as is natural when opinion starts coming in to play.

          Let it be stated that I’m not a proponent of using ONLY flat design. Rather, use different styles to portray the vision and personality of the client or organization at hand.

          Here is a great example of a website that, I believe, is “doing it correctly”. http://www.invisionapp.com/

          Invision’s website seems to use every aspect of what you’re against. Yet, it creates an “invitation to explore” the rest of their content and has a great navigational system in place that is straight forward, simple, and inclusive.

          National West’s design, however, implements a variety of useless animations that confuse users and sub-par typography design. They are an example of a corporation who wants to “jump on the band wagon”, so to speak.

          White space, typography, images, and colors in web design have to be carefully balanced in a strategy to create a great experience for users on desktops and mobile devices. It’s a difficult balance to attain, but it’s one for which we must strive if we want to create a great UX. Human psychology and sociology also play a heavy hand in creating a UI that allow these elements (if used correctly) to lead a user through the site, and there’s a vast amount of research there that a lot of designers don’t bother with.

          A large “pretty picture” can be a huge descriptor for the content that’s trying to be portrayed. Designers can use these large header images as a strong indicator of what that company, organization, or person is all about. Of course, this can be done lazily and incorrectly as well. Choosing an image that is unrelated is a bad move – regardless of the colors in and the quality of the image.

          All-in-all a majority of sites implementing flat design have done a poor job, but I don’t think that the problem is with flat design – it’s with the designers that are attempting to implement it. Perhaps it is laziness, but it could also be ridiculous deadlines (I’ve been in these situations before) and/or little to no research into UI/UX design, psychology, and sociology.

          • Tarian


            Thanks for the link to http://www.invisionapp.com/
            It is indeed “a great example of a website” ….. that represents the current disconnect between web-designers and Users (and it’s not especially “flat”).

            Sorry readers for the length, but this site contains at least 15 User-un-friendly features.

            1) The first view is dominated by a screen-filling picture – with fewer than 35 words (more of that later)

            2) Worse…. the photo is animated.

            There are so many tech forums where people ask how to block animations. People finding them distracting and annoying.

            Sometimes a carousel of photos is relevant (e.g. holiday villas) – but visitors should be able to control them.

            3) The pop-over advert

            4) The indistinct top “menu” . i.e. 6 plain text words with no border or shading to indicate an active link. Only “Sign Up Free” has a border – and red text.

            5) Lack of Contents” list – to whet the appetite and tempt exploration.

            6) Below the 4 large words are 8 words – but in a whispy, indistinct font.

            7) The only OBVIOUS link (1) is the bright pink panel “Get Started Here” – but with so little info in the first view – why would one even bother exploring???

            8) Below the photo is a row of 6 monotone, pale grey words and one unnamed grey logo – lazy and indistinct. What’s wrong with the logo’s original colours ?

            End of initial view – scroll one screen view

            9) Next is a large block of empty white space – which of course means that the Visitor will have to scroll even more – if he/she can be bothered. (I normally go elsewhere at this point.)

            Below this empty space are very few words – in just 9 lines in a narrow column.

            10) Worse – 7 of these lines are pale grey !

            11) This is compounded by over-large line-spacing

            Against the glaring white background, this combination (grey font and wide-line-spacing) the lack of contrast causes eye-strain as one attempts to focus on this indistinct text.

            What’s wrong with BLACK text ??

            (Again, there are plenty of Tech USER forums asking this question)

            12) Lack of pagination

            Four more of these (overly-white, minimal text, glaring) screen views. (Can one call these “pages”??)

            Lack of “page” length indicator creates uncertainty about how much scrolling is required – esp. when there is no consistency between websites

            Pagination gives clear, quantifiable info to the Visitor – certainty about how much scrolling is required – esp. when there is no consistency between websites

            13) The long “page” seems to end with another screen-filling photo – with a mere 7 words …”Invision is a faster way to certainty” – with somebody’s name underneath.
            (“Certainty”? Is he being ironic ???)

            14) Lack of OBVIOUS links (2).
            This HUGE photo has a video “Play” arrow – the only obvious link since the top photo.

            The “page” scrolls tediously on – with repeats of the un-friendly, work-making features:
            – Another section with pale grey logos in acres of empty, glaring white space
            – A screen-filling dark panel, again with very few words (i.e. little info) in an over-large font – inviting the visitor to supply an email addres

            But there remains one more poor design feature:

            15) The “footnote” list of plain text words, in columns and rows – again in pale grey.
            What are these for?
            They “might” be links – but the lack of highlights/emphasis says ” we don’t really want the Visitor to explore these”.

            Examples of recently un-friendly sites include Gov.uk, B&Q (diy.com), Barclays – but at least these have shorter pages or slightly better visual clues for links.

            So… Thanks again Curt for suggesting a site that, in its attempt to look “pretty”, contains all the faddish design features that require the Visitor to work, guess, – or leave.

          • Curt

            You’re assuming that each target audience is the same. Again, most of your points are nitpicking and based on opinion. A majority of users don’t want to read much when they’re looking at a website. You’re lucky if you can get users to read more than 25% of your website’s content. A smart use of imagery and video can allow you to use less text/copy. Most of the time, when I (and a majority of users) load a page that overwhelms me with text, I bounce – simply because I don’t have the time to read your website’s novel.

            Each client will have different needs. This is why I said “Let it be stated that I’m not a proponent of using ONLY flat design. Rather, use different styles to portray the vision and personality of the client or organization at hand.” If you’re selling health insurance, focus on copy and endless dropdown menus. If you’re selling a design prototyping tool, focus on design and keep things clean and to-the-point. It’s interesting how Invision’s design is driving so much profit (hundreds of millions of dollars per year) if it’s so bad and causes people to work, guess, – or leave.

          • Tarian

            If web design companies are making so much money – perhaps it’s the web-salespeople driving more business on the basis of “everyone else is doing it”.

            Today I checked the site of a self-employed gas engineer.
            It’s recently changed to “flat” with a HUGE screen-filling photo carousel (animation), large monotone panels that go below the fold (unlike before).
            I don’t believe HE said “Hey, I must re-design my website”.

          • Curt

            Their success can definitely be attributed (at least in part) to a sales/web team. Also, they’re innovating the space, so “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t apply to them. They have excellent hiring policies and a great team – further grounding my stance.

            As for your self-employed gas engineer – if he didn’t say “Hey, I must re-design my website”, then why did he change his website? Anyways.. It sounds to me like a quick response to a perceived trend. Jumping on a trend for it’s own sake is rarely (if ever) the correct move. Must I quote myself again? “Each client will have different needs”

          • accorn

            Nope that site is awful – it’s not an invitation to explore but an invitation to leave and find a site that is actually usable and not full of junky shifting crap :).. sorry to be so crud but that’s the truth.

          • Jack Wu

            right. The site full of bullshit, cause it offend us to use f- word to f back.

        • Patti March


        • ScottMc76

          What’s the purpose of the page? Is it to present information or to convey a benefit, an emotion or a message about the philosophy of the brand. What you describe is an experience where form follows function. That’s great if you’re producing the web equivalent of a user’s guide. But what if you’re trying to convey something that can be demonstrated by a single photo that otherwise would take pages and pages of explanation? All banks have the same basic products, nearly identical rates, ATM networks, blah, blah and blah. But what makes them distinct, different, better? This is where brand expression becomes much more important than utility. This is where design needs to play a different role. It’s not about utility. It’s about experience and brand building.

          • accorn

            Right.. but making huge endlessly scrolling pages with shifting disorganized, excessively visual content, and every element blending is not building “brand” equity.. it’s building an artificial disaster :). Websites from the 90’s had branding while still having good form and function. Sites today are what happens when designers drink too much.

        • Kyle Hill

          Look at Wunderground they used to have a great design in the early 00s now they have the flat look and removed a lot of great features and made their History/Almanac virtually unusable especially if you have your own PWS (Personal Weather Station) with a good back log.

          A lot of people reported their weather station history vanishing prior to September 2015 when a major site update happened and these are people with data back a good 10 or 15 years.

      • gadsdengurl

        The world is not flat and our eyes did not evolve looking at flatness. Therefore our eyes become strained when trying to pick out details from a totally flat image. If flat is so natural, why not do away with photos and just use line drawings?

        • Curt

          I don’t believe that I ever said flat was “natural”. So your question that starts with “If flat is so natural” has no basis. Done correctly, it can be aesthetically pleasing to a majority of users. Regardless, I’m more of a proponent of material design. https://goo.gl/oPXUvN

          • Tarian

            “Flat” aka “minimalism” is “aesthetically pleasing” to designers … and con-artists who want to get more money for less work (detail).

            Is it not curious that a much larger cohort of customers buy stuff with detail in the design – even though magazines constantly feature /promote over-priced so-called “contemporary” stuff?

          • Curt

            Flat design and minimalism are not less work. If anything, it can be more work because you have to really think about the placement of content on the page, typography, and imagery that speaks for you instead of filling the page with crap that gets in the way and gets overlooked.

            P.S. Flat design and minimalism are two different design styles. Do some research before publicly posting an opinion.

          • Tarian

            “Flat design and minimalism are two different design styles. Do some research before publicly posting an opinion”

            I know you are trying to wind me up….;-)

            I’ve done plenty of research – and it all points to a widening gulf between web-designers and website visitors.

            “Flat” is clearly in the same corner as “minimalism”.
            So let’s be clear:
            “Minimalism” in furniture means “clean straight lines” – i.e. no additional work in shaping.

            On web pages it means “stripping out unnecessary (in who’s opinion?) detail”.
            In practice that means removing visual clues to aid navigation such as rounded tabs & buttons, borders, shading, underlines, background colour etc

            I will concede that “Flat” might include borders, underlines or rounded buttons & tabs….
            ……but the “in your face” features of “Flat” are HUGE monotone coloured rectangles – together with NO shading to give depth or curves for variety, interest and distinctiveness.

            In my book that is as near “minimalist” as makes no difference – and just as lazy and disrespectful to visitors and users.

            And please don’t use crude debating tricks such as your straw man argument of…
            “filling the page with crap that gets in the way”

            The alternative to “Flat” is NOT filling a page with “crap” – just much more info and visual variety than many (most?) recent web re-designs.

          • Curt

            I’m actually not trying to wind anyone up. We’re talking about web design, not furniture.



            My point is that realism and flat are BOTH valid design concepts, and there’s no reason to discount either one completely. Each design style has it’s own merit in the right places and in the right situations. By saying “filling the page with crap that gets in the way” I was implying that a majority of users will immediately skip over large blocks of text without reading them – thus rendering them useless to all but the 5% of users who read through them. It’s been proven, which is why these new patterns are emerging/have emerged.

            There’s no single way to design websites and applications.

          • Tarian

            Thanks again for providing links …. to websites that support my point.
            All four are minimalist to my eyes – AND flat.
            (Or are you going to take that lack of distinction as being my “ignorance” about design?)

            Both are appalling – in terms of lack of CLEAR navigation – but also aesthetic appeal (to me at any rate).
            Even scrolling a bit is depressing and off-putting, i.e. provides no incentive to explore – and the means (navigation) is uncertain anyway.

            The ONLY distinction between your Minimalist pair and Flat pair, is that the former are monochrome, the latter have colour.

            Please don’t take this personally…
            …. but the only reason I continue to add to this thread is that 99%(?) of websites are supposed to FUNCTIONAL – and “Flat/Minimalism” impairs function.

            Too many sites that I used to visit are now VERY User UN-friendly – (as others on this thread have said)…..
            …. and it is website designers that are responsible for this increasing disconnect.

            On the very rare occasions that a website owner actually asks its users about a re-design, complaints are overwhelming about loss of functionality.

          • Curt

            They are not the same. In fact, they’re blatantly different. Minimal websites are the newspaper of the digital world. They are, by definition, lacking design (In retrospect, http://minimalissimo.com/ doesn’t fit into either category). Fflat websites, however, have color and imagery to convey meaning and style as well other differentials.

            Flat/Minimalism design does not impair function whatsoever. How much more clear can the navigation be? You’ve slammed every website that I’ve posted because of your clear bias, and have yet to provide an alternative. The navigation on these sites is the same as a vast majority of websites using different design methodologies. The difference being in HOW they’re displayed – what they look like.

            Complaints about lack of functionality are, as I’ve said before (multiple times now), bad design and/or development work. My bank also recently switched to flat design, and they did not do well. They interface is unintuitive and lackadaisical. This isn’t a problem with the design style, it’s a problem with their interpretation and execution.

            I’ve said all that I can on this subject. My point is that there’s a time and a place for every style, and new styles should be tried and tested and none should be ruled out. That’s how the web evolves. If you want websites to crawl into a rut and never change, then you’re going to have a depressing future – full of complaint.

          • Tarian

            “You’ve slammed every website that I’ve posted because of your clear bias, and have yet to provide an alternative”

            Try these two:
            1) http://www.eaglesheds.co.uk
            2) http://www.hradkarlstejn.cz/en/

            1) My only criticism of the shed site is the uncontrollable photo carousel (but at least it’s not too fast)
            The very top has “icons” with DETAIL – unlike the infantile “flat” icons emerging recently. (Yes. I know they’re not Active – just pointing out the contrast in icon styles.)
            Navigation is VERY clear.
            Proper Contents down the left side – each itme espanding for sub-division.
            Just click on any link and most display in one view (or with very little scrolling)
            Layout is generally very good.

            2) My only criticism of the Castle site is the use of Times Roman – as serifs take a tad longer to read.
            Other than that, it’s close to my ideal site.
            Pages with a variety of panels for different purposes – inviting the visitor to take any of several paths – and NOT limiting the Visitor to a path chosen by the site owner (the shed site allows User-choice as well).
            The lack of glaring white background – and variety of coloured backgrounds – with colour gradients for texture – make it a more relaxed and pleasing experience.

            “If you want websites to crawl into a rut and never change….”
            Actually that would be preferable to USERS (apart from the pejariative “rut”) – assuming we’re taking about DESIGN and NAVIGATION.
            Of course CONTENT should be updated.
            As has been said so often about Microsoft’s constant OS revolution (for example) “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

            Find designs that work (which the internet HAS done) – and stick to it !

          • Tanya Volchkova

            I was SO with you until you provided those examples. Wow. Maybe both have undergone a redesign since you posted this but …. those are terrible. Perhaps they have some structural soundness, not even going to go there, but the looks? Especially of the first website? Oh lord, it’s a 1990’s nightmare. Please tell me that this is not a representative of our counter offer to flat UI??

          • Tarian

            “looks” are subjective and personal.
            There is no “wow” factor at EagleSheds – but neither does it suffer the ugliness, brutality or infantile looks of “flat”.
            It works.
            The left side has a clear list of Contents which link as stated.

            Sadly your remark about “1990’s nightmare” implies that fad, fashion and “newness” is more important than functionality – that “change” is necessary or always good !

            If it works, why should the Visitor give a flying **** whether it looks “1990’s”

            How about this train Journey Planner?

            Again, I would not defend every element – but I would hate to lose the visual utility provided by the colour gradients, rounded corners and use of different colours and shading.
            These visual clues help distinguish elements and highlight active links – such Visitor aids seem an anathema to the Flat brigade.

            After creating a journey, the resultant table has each possible journey shaded – easier to capture a single journey alng with the context of alternatives.
            “Flat” would almost certainly create a list that gave the User a sense of merger and confusion between journeys.

            To address your last remark.
            Based on many re-designs (i.e. not the entire internet), almost ANY alternative to Flat would provide clearer navigation and visual incentive to explore.
            Flat does neither.

          • TT

            // Sadly your remark about “1990’s nightmare” implies that fad, fashion and “newness” is more important than functionality – that “change” is necessary or always good !//

            Ok, hold your horses – no. I’m not here to defend flat design, nor am I an overzealous designer that wants to change everything. I was reacting like a user to that site … I’m not a huge design expert with a lot of education on the topic to color my perception, but I am pretty active online, so I’ve seen hundreds of different websites and used them (mostly online shopping), so I can tell you, as a user, what works for me and what doesn’t.

            I took one sweep around that site and I couldn’t figure out where to click, everything was squished together, too much text and definitely not enough color differentiation. I had to stop, focus my eyes on one thing and then go from there to figure out what was going on. This is roughly the opposite of what I experience on many generic flat-designed sites where I can’t FIND anything for ages. Either way, to ME (perhaps everyone else is just wildly different from me) this type of confusion makes for an unpleasant first encounter, I tend to leave sites that make me feel this way and I don’t come back. But anyway, my bigger point is that we need a happy medium between that site and flat UI. I like the Railway site you linked. That is “modern”, actually functional, and yet not “boutique-y” or pretentiously “flat”.

            // If it works, why should the Visitor give a flying **** whether it looks “1990’s”//

            Because people have biases about the modernity of something in an age where technology is the salvation of everything and everyone (not arguing about whether this is true). Meaning: if it’s not modern(-looking), it’s questionable. I think this is especially true for the younger customer base (I’m part of it) – they grew up seeing web tools and products looking and acting a particular way and so they’re going to be biased towards what they were exposed to the longest, which is designs that are … not from 1990’s.

            Example: when I am purchasing something online, I do this frequently, I am sadly less likely to give credibility to a retailer that looks like their site design is from 1990. It makes me question whether their credit card processing software might be from that era too, which has obvious security implications. Then it makes me wonder if they are struggling financially – why haven’t they upgraded their site? I will pass up a “good deal” on a site that looks outdated. Not every time, but if there’s nothing else to convince me that they are credible and safe to buy from, yeah I’m out of there. That’s stupid, you might say, pure bias! And sure, it is, but that’s what happens. I have heard the same time of feedback many times from people of ALL ages – I can’t be the only one who thinks this exact way when landing on a web page.

            So yes, people do care if the design is from 1990 – not that they SHOULD, but I’m arguing that they do. Arguing about “shoulds” is just resisting reality. I think it is possible to have both basic/sound functionality, which seems to me you are a big proponent of, AND modern-looking design that is pleasing and doesn’t look like clip-art.

          • accorn

            I don’t think modern flatlike designs are lazy but I do think they are basically bad websites – they have thrown out time tested usability practices and create large excessively scrolling, disorganized, constantly shifting content making the content difficult to understand and navigate. So I don’t agree with you that they have a place – they are a fad that people have convinced themselves are good even though it totally sucks.

          • Captain S

            That’s correct too. Flatness and minimalism are actually associated to each other. But there can also be flat maximalistic design, which is not so plausible, but exist.
            E.g. the Galaxy Note 3’s user interface did no longer have colour transitions, only single colours. But a hige variety and many small border lines.

            But Hyun Yeul Lee came and killed Samsung.

          • Captain S

            This was also proven by the new Instagram WEBSITE.

            Remember the live-updating tiles? The old, blue, not-single-colour-tone header? The angular profile pictures with more room? More colour transitions and variety, not only ugly and shitty white? Only three instead of five pictures in the row, to match the inferiour mobile screens? And on those sides just black bars?


            When I saw the new, crippled version for the first time, I reacted in the same way as I did with the new Google logo (the old one from 2007 is the best one anyways.), and there were some other examples such as the Galaxy-S6-logo, which also looks like the new Google-logo.
            • The page might not be loaded properly. So let’s reload. Oh $hit, it’s not a joke.
            • Isn’t this the inferior mobile version?
            • It might be a beta or an april fool.

            But it was reality.
            Finally somebody, who has a correct opinion about that.
            iOS 6 and TouchWiz NatureUX 1.0… they were so natural and realistic. Now, they look like bullshit.

            Where is SKEUOMORPHISM???

          • Captain S

            they look like bull$hit = their successors.

        • Kyle Hill

          BUT THE WORLD IS FLAT! The new age people say so! :o Therefore all programs must revolve around the flat earth theory.

      • accorn

        The content is the fundamental purpose of all sites – and the problem with modern so called flat designs is they have a disorganized structure of colors and imagery that overtakes the content. In the early days of web design, colorful designs and animations did amaze but did not conflict with the content.

    • gadsdengurl

      Well -said my friend! Apple has lost so many people over this.

      • ScottMc76

        How exactly has Apple’s decades long minimalist design philosophy harmed them in any way? Every other tech company has attempted to compete with them and failed, not because their tech is less capable. In many cases, such as Samsung, they’re devices are actually more capable. What sets Apple apart and has allowed them to dominate is that they have a core design philosophy and they stick to it, both in their physical product design and in their digital expression. Everything relates, because it’s all derived from a single well-defined philosophy (the “why” behind everything they do, as Simon Sinek puts it). Samsung hasn’t dethroned Apple yet because they haven’t decided who they really are. They don’t live and breathe their purpose and let that drive their design decisions.

        The problem with minimalist design as it is implemented by so many designers is that is nothing more than a gimmick. These designers are posers. They don’t really believe in the philosophy they’re emulating. They don’t understand why minimalism works or what it is supposed to accomplish. And so it accomplishes nothing. Apple gets it and always has, whether you like their brand or not.

      • fyyff

        Yes they changed their os design but they just didn’t go full retard on minimalism like microsoft did.

    • Johnny B

      It seems to me I hear my own self!
      Flat design has really disintegrated any sense of beauty and creativity, regarding GRAPHICS!
      In the good old days of UIs like Windows Vista (I’m talking about graphics and UIs only NOT the OS itself) the user had a great time when working with his computer. Everything friendly and life-like. One could realize that the guys who had designed all these had really worked HARD…! Believe it or not, I’m still using Windows Vista, skinned perfectly with some great skins via WB. Anyway, if someone likes flat, that’s his own business. But he can’t say that flat is better than photo-realism. It’s like saying that a log is better than a well worked furniture.

      • ScottMc76

        You underestimate the skill and restraint that it takes to execute good minimalist design. What’s easier to write, a 500 word essay on a subject or a five line poem that perfectly communicates a feeling, a mood or a human experience? It’s the same with design. Filling the page with lots of visual tricks is typically a sign that you’re not a very experienced designer. With experience comes the understanding of when less is more. Restraint is something you don’t learn in design school. You come to it eventually through experience. Some of the best designers in the world put the fewest elements on the page, but each one serves a purpose to make the entirety of the design work together to achieve something greater than the sum of the parts. This is not a short cut. It actually takes much longer and requires much more skill than throwing up Photoshop tricks on the page.

        • T.Doom

          “What’s easier to write, a 500 word essay on a subject or a five line
          poem that perfectly communicates a feeling, a mood or a human
          That’s the problem with minimalist/flat user interface, the designers are forgetting about usability and catering to the needs of the majority of users. Yes, it takes more skill to craft a meaningful minimalist design. However, it also takes someone who has the experience to understand and interpret such information conveyed in such limited amount of textual/visual elements. Many people will not get full picture communicated by the “five line poem”, hence it’s a poor choice of design methodology for a user interface that’s supposed to be user-friendly and intuitive for inexperienced users. Those who believe that people should “get” minimalist designs in the context of user interface are being somewhat of arrogant elitists.

          • Benjamin Mazariegos

            You spell the DOOM of Microsoft. Flat design echoes what Steve Jobs once said: MICROSOFT HAS NO TASTE!

          • Benjamin Mazariegos

            Bautiful books have even gold plated sides, beautiful fonts, lots of beautiful drawings, etc. A Tolstoy or Dickens novel might be the “same” without those but c’mon you seem like a great admirer of UNaesthetic Microsoft.

          • Kyle Hill

            Apple started it first and you know how Apple fans are.

        • Jack Wu

          the realty is : Real world always beat those you claimed as good designers! It doesn’t matter how a person is well trained or not, if he stays in a cubic, start image how real world user shall use the software, which item they must access and which items shall be hide from them, he is already a bad designer.

          A piece of program, utility or webpage shall be designed as easy as possible for users to find what ever items they want. A designer’s job is not image or limit users accessing on certain items or certain way in his favor, instead, he shall provide an easy standard way for user to find what ever they want easily, intuit.

      • Captain S

        Windows Vista SP2 was very good!

        • Panos Roditakis

          Then take your time machine and go back to 2010, 2000 or whatever time you need 😜

    • Captain S

      The ONLY, ONLY advantage of flat deisgn, is that it can be image-manipulated much easier.

      But FLAT design… minimalism is not an excuse.

      Minimalism is EXACTLY, what power users do NOT desire to have. What does minimalism mean? It means less. Less diversity, less features, and if I hear:

      CLEAN(&vibrant) UI. What does CLEAN mean? CLEAN? CLEAN?

      Here is some random text that I found online: „The shutter button is now completely uglified. When I heard: „the UI has been cleaned up“, I thought: oh no. This does not sound good. I always associate „cleaned“ with removed features, buttons, UI elements, minimalistic UIs, and less capabilities and more. What is so good about minimalism? It just means less. That’s exactly, hat we do not want about a FLAGSHIP.“

      I HATE clean designs! There was a hole in new devices before, that made it possible to attach a neckband to avoid falling it down.
      But now? „We’re introducing a MINIMAL design.“ Minimal? Do they think that it is GOOD?

      But here is the killer. Hyun Yeul Lee:
      We started with a more logical structure, AND reduced the stuff to the menus and settings. Plus, we swapped out abstract icons and replaced them with CLEAR, conCISE TäXT. We removed EVERYTHING (sounds like very much. Fuck Hyun Yeul L33iar.)

      • Kyle Hill

        That’s how socialism works. Use fancy meaningless words to draw you in like fish in a hook then BAM they got you good! It’s part of the 45 step Communist plan. http://www.rense.com/general32/americ.htmYou are about to read a list of 45 goals that found their way down the halls of our great Capitol back in 1963. As you read this, 39 years later, you should be shocked by the events that have played themselves out. I first ran across this list 3 years ago but was unable to attain a copy and it has bothered me ever since. Recently, Jeff Rense posted it on his site and I would like to thank him for doing so. http://www.rense.com

        Communist Goals (1963) Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963

        Current Communist Goals EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, January 10, 1963 .
        – See more at: http://www.rense.com/general32/americ.htm#sthash.TEbWLpJV.dpuf

        • Antikapitalista

          You evidently failed to notice that the flat design has been foisted on us by American/U.S. corporate capitalists.

          And spamming the forum with anti-communist psychopaths’ ideas about communism is just about as sensible as spamming it with Nazi tirades about Jewishness.

          It just makes you look like you have a severely debilitating mental illness that seriously afflicts your cognitive skills.

      • Jack Wu

        Minimalism means make user’e effort to accomplish tasks harder, more difficult.

    • UltraMan

      Man I seriously could not agree more.

    • Thomas VanHulle

      You’re NOT alone. Over these past few years, the basic set of icons I keep easily accessible (desktop, Start Menu/Screen, etc) has been practically the same: My favorite games, web browser, and a few programs I use all the time. At first, all of them had beautiful, stunning ‘skeumorphic’ icons which I grew to love.
      But then Chrome’s beautiful ‘Orb’ icon changed one day out of the blue to this flat circle thing.
      I kind of liked the new icon, but I miss the old one. Then it got worse.
      More and more of my favorite games, programs, and even websites started adapting this ‘flat’ trend, from Skype to Steam, from the Technic Launcher to ROBLOX, Malwarebytes, Avast, and even Razer Cortex. Luckily Avast has since jumped back a bit; Avast’s UI and icons are one of the few “Flat” designs I love, but even Avast was overly flat for a time. Thankfully, they’ve adopted an “Almost Flat” approach that makes their products all that much more satisfying to use.

      I’m sick of details and aesthetics getting squashed as if they were insignificant bugs. Everything just looks so dull and lazy now. Back in the good days (Basically before 2013), ALL icons and websites looked like they had been extensively thought out and meticulously designed. Now it looks as if everything was hashed out within the span of a few minutes. Frankly I don’t enjoy using my computer as much as I once did because of it. I do like Windows 8.1, but I find myself missing a LOT of things from Windows 7 (The Start Orb for example).

      I can’t help but think that if this fad doesn’t die soon then Visual Design won’t be the only thing suffering. Today Visuals, tomorrow Functionality. Sadly… this is already occurring… so it may already be too late…

      • Kyle Hill

        BUT IT’S THE GREAT AWAKENING! YOU MUST LIKE IT! We are all one now and share a common conscience and will rise to the 4th dimension breaking apart our liner thinking that leads to destruction and ruin! (So says the New Age people)

        No I will not like it. I will not have them here or there. In fact I will not have it ANYWHERE!

    • Kyle Hill

      Because the people who program only know how to program for Android. If it works on Android they can do it otherwise too much work and bother for a small percents as in 20 other people using computers. You and I are the first two. :)

      The other 18 are either Europeans or Russians that speak bad English or no English at all and they are great at programming things but if something goes wrong or a mismatch between yours and theirs then tyour out of luck. Sorry Charlie.

      I’ve seen many mods that do that for games. It works great on their end because they have an often older machine but on newer computers mods wind up breaking or bricking your game.

    • Raluca T.

      “Minimalism” is an excuse to take short cuts, to avoid craftsmanship and skill – whether in furniture or websites.”

      Tarian, 3 september 2015

  • Steen Brown

    I’m not a designer – I’m a business owner and user. I agree with Tarian, but I must add that the “Flat Design Is Going Too Far’ article itself requires needlessly excessive scrolling. It is much more readble at 50% zoom.

  • Matt

    Its like my bank and credit card sites. They widen the columns, make it double spaced, remove the grid lines and the background shading. Pretty soon you’re holding a ruler up to the screen to figure out which line the date, transaction & amount appears. Plus you have to keep scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling just to see them all since they are so far spaced. Then you want to compare the transaction from July 5th to the one you made on the 18th. Before you could see them all on the screen at the same time, now you have to scroll through 3 screens just to see both of them. Try using Excel without gridlines…now do it when you are on a deadline and need to pull up that info fast…

    • J-Dub

      yep, PayPal did this, Forbes, several other news sites — it hurts my eyes and takes longer to find functions!

      • WreckTom

        Yes, too many clicks to do anything, but first you have to find a way to open some sort of menu.

        It’s like the 90’s found an efficient way to organize complex and voluminous information and functionalities in a way that is palatable for most people, until the late 2000’s when ease of use became a game of hide and seek with menus.

        It’s a sad era to be an office worker. I think I could figure out how to rebuild a car engine faster than I can find a way to change a slide background in Power Point.

        • Jack Wu

          you are absolute right. I am always offended by these flat designs that hide the important menu or function entrances. Life is way much harder now since the evil flat design come up.

  • gadsdengurl

    I hate how Apple’s Ives and Cook have destroyed the GUI of iOS and OS all in the name of flat. They have violated every HIG that Steve Jobs revered and cherished. Now they have violated every HIG imaginable as my eyes cannot see the damned text! I will never buy another Apple product until again they go back to the beautiful icons seen in iOS 6 and OS 10.8

    • Curt

      They haven’t destroyed the GUI. It’s very well done. I’m more of an Android fan myself, but iOS has a great interface.

      • accorn

        I was a big apple fan until the early 2k.. after that they ruined everything good and made very bad design decisions.

    • ScottMc76

      Actually, you’ve got that exactly wrong. Apple’s GUI is finally beginning to resemble the design philosophy that has driven their product design for decades. There has always been a slight disconnect between the careful minimalist restraint in the physical products and the over stylized unnecessarily three-dimensional icons. It’s like the hardware guys and the software guys were designing from a different playbook. With the recent evolution of IOS, the interface and physical product design are finally beginning to get on the same page.

      • accorn

        Nope.. three dimensional icons make sense because humans live in an interactive 3d world. There was a reason people went from DOS to the GUI.. now it is reverting from what actually makes sense to what is unnatural just so people can be different. Being different when different is actually better is good.. doing it because your bored is dumb.

  • ScottMc76

    Design is a problem-solving tool. It’s not art. Art is art. Design is a means to an end. If the creative problem you’re trying to solve is to reduce complexity, increase utility or communicate a single-minded or simple message, then minimalist design is absolutely the way to go. Complex design is not “better than”. It’s just a different approach to solve a different problem. Typically a designer that makes something that’s inherently simple more complex than it needs to be is just attempting to hide his lack of a clear design philosophy behind a lot of visual distractions. The more complex the problem or message, the more simple the design needs to be. Most designers get that exactly backwards. Every element of a design should serve a purpose that helps the entirety of the page (product, widgit, whatever) accomplish more and communicate more than the sum of its parts. If an element doesn’t serve a purpose, it doesn’t deserve to be there. It’s working against the intention of the design and doing nothing to solve the problem.

    • accorn

      I participated in actual eye tracking and biological response studies of website usability.. hooking people up to machines and tracking not only their eyes but their physical reactions to site designs and it was an eye opener to be sure. The human body does everything it can to actual reach usable and useful content and ignore visual distractions .. but unfortunately modern designers ignore that fact and keep making the visually overwhelming content. Your right that design should be a tool but most designers are not using it like one, at least if the purpose of the “tool” is to make effective sites that reach and convert or achieve some other real goal.

  • Tarian

    Nielsen Norman Group seem to be well respected for evidence based comment on web design.
    Yesterday (8th Nov) they published:

    “Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency”see:>

    Messages include:
    “To know where they can click on a website, users need signifiers:
    perceptible clues that help them understand how to use interfaces. Blue
    underlined text is an example of a traditional signifier of a clickable
    link that even the least experienced web users understand.”

    “Flat design increased the popularity of designing clickable elements
    with absent or weak signifiers. Linked text styled as static text is an
    example of an absent signifier.”
    “A ghost button (text with a thin border and no background color) is an example of a weak signifier”

    “Users are forced to explore pages to determine what’s clickable.
    They frequently pause in their activities to hover over elements hoping
    for dynamic clickability signifiers, or click experimentally to
    discover potential links.”

    “….they’re still being forced to do extra work and are being distracted
    from their primary goals without gaining any tangible benefit.”

    (Having to guess what’s clickable)
    “If there is any delay between a click and a change in the system, users
    begin to wonder if the element was actually clickable and may give up.”

    The summary is spot on:
    “It’s ironic, then, that the misuse of these design styles (flat, minimalist) slows users
    down by forcing them to think harder about what options are available to

    The article includes positive (surely blindingly obvious) suggestions such as:
    “always using some amount of visual signifier on clickable elements”

    Hopefully designers will listen and return to helping web-users surf effectively.

  • Nathaniel Wayne Brooks

    Its not so much that I hate flat design…..

    But working with computer graphics since the PC launch its just a sad thing to see…

    When I started out we had 256 colors to work with, tables and simple graphics over 33k modems (56k if you were lucky).

    now days we have millions of colors to work with, massive amounts of bandwidth compared to the early days, not the mention of digital cameras, editing software and anything your heart desires.

    with all this power and memory, and the best we have to show for it are a few colors and text blocks….

    one would think with all these advances web sites and computers in general would be ever increasing in stunning imagery, but alas it seems gone are the days of pushing what we can do, or designing visually spectacular websites.

    I have had customers come to me in the past wanting things that I had never seen before, and I had to spend days just trying to figure out a way that it might be done. 15-20 years ago a lot of customers were not really familiar with thousands of websites, they didn’t know how a website HAD to look, and what parameters it had to conform to.

    Anyone remember 2004 with Snapple displaying Snappleton on their website, it was visually stunning, at that time I had never seen anything like it.

    Snapples website at the moment is NICE, at least its not flat, but it is a little plain, but gets the job done, and is not boring.

    I still enjoy visiting websites to see what they look like, not what information they have (unfortunately visually striking/original websites are far and few between).

    I guess its like cars, in the early days almost every car had a unique look, now they model cars with efficiency and wind tunnels in mind. you have to see the hood orient to figure out what car brand it is most of the time, but there will always be exotic car designs, and so I guess there will be always be the few lone websites that don’t conform to a generic look, after all its a numbers game.

  • accorn

    It’s hard to go “too far” when the whole direction was bad from the beginning. Most modern designs are aweful – endless scrolling, shifting content, excessive visuals that get in the way of understanding content. People have forgotten the the purpose of a site is conversion not being fanciful. It’s like trying to revinvent the book by making covers that stick together and are hard to open, and putting all the pages out of order just to be “different”.

  • LeadFromBehind

    Lazy, boring, unproductive, less features, less customization, harder to use….
    …sounds like the minimalist fashion trend was conceived by The Federal Government.

  • WreckTom

    More and more modern interfaces are turning to complete shit.

    Everything is hidden, buttons are too big, even the office ribbon is a fucking mess.

    I knew we were going down when google removed the top tabs and added 3 clicks just to open the translator.

    Too many clicks, not enough menus.

  • I don’t like flatd esigns. I don’t understand why people like it.

  • Daniel Koepf

    I totally agree with all of this. Flat design can be useful in mobile devices but like your example of Windows 8’s Metro UI shows it can be totally annoying if not done right.

  • Oliver, I added a link to your article to our bibliography of flat vs realistic design: http://www.FlatIsBad.com

  • LectricLarry

    Hooray! So many people agree with me..Or is that Vice Versa??? I do not care the ‘name’. The creativity has left the building! Large blocks of monotone, offensive, brazen color. Wayyyy too much space. No gradients… No creativity. (OK…On 99.99% of the New Design/Flat Design/Ickky Design-ed pages!)
    If I see another solid TEAL block
    ………………..(or triangle saying FEEDBACK with no punctuation or design uniqueness))
    a shoe is going through my monitor!
    Which Kindergarten class designed those laughable icons???

    Can you say Aesthetics? .. All I want to do when landing on a page filled with… Huge blocks of orange-only.. is click right off.

    Guess it’s because I owned an advertising agency in Monterey .. Mostly print media. Our team created some memorable layouts… What happened?

    I feel better, now!

    P.S. Sort of like the cover of that free book above! Better than most , but, still, my mind does not think in monotone angles… Well, when it works at all!)

  • Christopher Wortman

    Am I the only one who hates flat icons etc? I liked 7’s icons they were awesome. Realism is nice. Flat icons look too bland for me…

  • I think “hate” is too mild a word for how I feel about flat design. I have been trying to adapt, but everything I do every day is just a little harder because my primary tool has been redesigned to suit the needs of somebody else who is using a different tool. This was a bad idea three years ago. How long must we put up with it?

  • Kihafidhina1776

    It’s boring, it’s lazy, it’s inefficient, and goes completely backwards to all of the technological advancements made in screen technology for ease-of-use. Basically it sucks balls.

  • b_c

    I’m afraid no one is listening to you – to us.

    The situation is very significant sociologically speaking as it reeks of the conformism of corporatism.

    The very notion of flat, pale and simple reminds me of the aesthetic movement in art at the dawn of fascism in last century Europe. It seems that anything that is original, that speaks clearly and loudly and that dares to be different is severely reprimanded in our modern societies infested with political incorrectness. No good can come out of a society that imposes severe restrictions on originality and that praises mindless uniformization and obedience.

  • Simon Talbot

    I actually like well made flat design, but I hate conformism and lack of personality

  • Simon Talbot

    8MB website, 60bytes of data

    • Simon Talbot

      I Also hate that

  • Variousthings3251

    Apple: BEST flat design, beautifully multi-colored icons and transparency all around.
    Google (Material): All I can say is that it’s TERRIBLE. UGLY font (That Roboto font looks indeed horrible, ESPECIALLY on low pixel density displays like PC Monitors).
    Microsoft (Metro aka Modern): At least there is transparency, although many programs look like you are in a hospital. ONE-COLORED icons that make it look like the first versions of Windows. Horrible…

  • dysamoria

    I hate flat design for the above reasons and more. It’s not limited to websites either. But as I use this site, I find that it’s own design and user experience/behavior is poor. Most of the same design crimes exist here. A few specifics: Low contrast. Small text. No distinction between links & content. The X to dismiss the cookie notice is barely extant; once I noticed it was there I had to repeatedly touch to trigger it (it’s small enough to be problematic with a mouse interface). The right-side panel (of questionable usage) and the page header blocks the page content when that content is zoomed for ease of reading (massive pet peeve; test zooming behavior on your designs!!!). It’s a good thing I can dismiss it, but why is it there in the first place? Lastly, bad behavior: following links from the comments, and coming back via the browser’s back functionality (for me right this moment, that’s swiping in Safari on an iPad Pro) results in the page I just left popping right back onto my screen as if I told the browser to go forward (I didn’t; this happened numerous times and irritated me enough to cross the threshold of “bother to leave a comment”).

    Design has been flushed down the toilet. Apple has validated and popularized the worst trend in content display since hardware limitations initially required “flat”, only the hardware limits were legit reasons for ugliness and eye strain. Apple worsened the trend with their color vomit, obsession with eliminating contrast, and choice of horrible coloring (such as your awful cyrulean blue) for “link” text (something that shouldn’t even exist in software, and only existed because Microsoft thought website-styled GUI design was a good idea… and everyone followed their lead while making their GUIs text-heavy/verbose).

    Flat IS lazy and amateurish. It seems the “do more with less” mantra of corporate America has succeeded in not only killing American industrial jobs but also killing skilled “white collar labor” (because paying a rank amateur a pittance is better than paying a good wage for a trained AND educated professional). It impacts education too. Who’s going to pay to learn the why and how of good design when no company cares to pay to hire for those skills? Who’s going to create and offer quality education for design when no one sees value in the knowledge and skills? End result: death of design.

    I can only hope that when all these lousy “designers” get older and their eyes start to degrade… they suffer discomfort at the junk they’ve spewed over the years since iOS 7 enshrined this horrible trend.

  • Captain S

    I don’t know, what to say. I will forget to mention something.
    But what is so good about MINIMAL, REDUCED deisgn? (fuck Hyun Yeul Lee)
    Minimal design caused e.g. for newer phones the neck band attach port to disappear, and many features to be removed, and icons from context menus to be removed, just to reduce features for a CLEANER design? What is so good about that? Power users never ever gave a f*ck about simplicity.

    Where are the small border lines in the TouchWiz settings and context menus between the entries?
    Where is the dark #00151c background, that saved so much power on AMOLED and did not hurt eyes?

    Hyun Yeul Lee is the SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT of the UX INNOVATION TEAM. She needs to be fired.
    But that’s just one example.

  • Captain S

    Textures replaced with white and boring lines?
    What the f*cking hell is so good about that!


    Everybody hates clean, minimal and flatter designs. Honestly.

  • Kihafidhina1776

    It’s lazy, ugly, inefficient and takes software back to WIndows 3.0. It’s amazing how people latch on to pure schit.

  • Captain S
  • M.E.Moras (e-sushi)

    One and a half years later I am looking at this site in a fill blowm flat, material-like design. Guess that answers the question – “Where’s the creativity gone… ?” :)

  • Pingback: 5 Web Design Trends We’d Like to Say Buh-bye to in 2017 | UpTrending()

  • CoachKo

    The flat design obsession has become cliche, boring, and completely unintelligent. But my main gripe is how easily the majority become conditioned by some designers interpretation on what good design is. Many of these flat icons lack a key component to user interaction, and that is quick glance function association. Color, texture, and depth play a huge role in creating those associations. After damn near two years of using the Iphone, I still confuse the Facetime icon with the text Messages icon because they differ only by the contour. This is as irritating and ridiculous as the skinny jean fad. It does NOT look good, and worse yet, is NOT practical. You minimalists spend way too much time on the computer. Stop allowing popular culture to determine the delicate balance of art & function of good UI design.

    • Shaffan Mustafa

      I very much agree with your point about texture. Windows 10 might have improved itself under the hood, but the UI sucks because if I have one window partially over another, it becomes hard to tell which window I’m looking at because the white, flat bars at the top blend together and I have to do more work in my head to figure out where stuff is on my screen. I’m no designer but good design should mean less work for the user and not more, even if some people consider it trivial (e.g. scrolling more on websites, have to jump from link to link, having stuff blend together and having to do more mental work to remember where stuff is on your screen (bad idea when you have to move stuff around a lot))

      The whole flat UI thing is just for snobbish, pretentious designers. It’s overuse and misuse makes it ugly and impractical for the end user, so someone please tell me what the goal of flat UI even was!

      • Kyle Hill

        They don’t know what the goal was. They just do what they were told to get their paycheque. Microsoft bought out Nokia in 2011 and fired all the PC workers replacing them with Nokia ones. Then they later fired most of THOSE workers. Microsoft is basically MicroNokia now and are essentially a smartphone company.

        They pretend not to be but are just fooling themselves.

      • Antikapitalista
  • UltraMan

    I feel like the biggest issue with flat design isn’t even so much that it’s overly popular. I feel it has a lot more to do with people just doing the minimum and it’s even worse that people are cashing in so much on it, too. There is actually a LOT of potential with flat design but most of these “website designers” aren’t even trying to explore it.

  • Kihafidhina1776

    It’s lazy, inefficient, harder to use and goes against all progress made in software design and computer speed. It’s schit!

  • fuckshit

    It’s fucking disgusting!!! WHY DID IT EXIST GODDAMNIT!!!! It wasn’t that easy before but I spent money, sweat and blood to downgrade back to from Win10 to Windows 7.I will forever be in Windows 7! Shame that after iOS 7 it’s impossible to downgrade to 6. FUCK FLAT DESIGN!

  • chiranjit

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  • Kyle Hill

    That is why there is no must have software for Win 10 and why none of us have upgraded. We tested Win 10 on our living room computer as the *guinea pig* since it has nothing important on it and it worked great at first but after day 1 it had an update and made many things non functional from not being able to do CD-roms to icons being messed up on three different computers later and a laptop.

    For a short time I had Win 10 PRO and didn’t encounter any of these problems as you can turn updates off on it but it didn’t play hardly any of my 7 and XP games even with fiddling around various compatibility settings and updating drivers which mostly has to do with resolution problems not actual game problems.

  • Kyle Hill

    Most software written for 10that does exist is subscription based like Office 360 where you don’t own it and that is acctually communism lite not a free market. Communism abolishes private property all together and Win 10 is a great step towards that where one entity owns everything and your *People’s Party* reelects the same person over and over with one choice only.

    Sure you have the freedom of votes but are presented with only one outcome the one THEY want to happen straight from however capitalism isn’t any better as it winds up being rich greedy lords owning it all and your back to the Kings and Queen era where you are a peasant a tool for the company.

    • Antikapitalista

      Obviously, you could not be more wrong, again.

      Communism, by definition, means *common ownership* (of the means of production).

      Communism means sharing.

      “Subscription-based” software has nothing to do with communism. You never co-own the software, you have no co-owner rights, all you are given is a “my way or highway”-style licence agreement.

      Free software is communist. It is shared and you can do with it whatever you like. It is free and the “intellectual property” in it is yours.

      Leasing is first and foremost a tool of crapitalism. And all this “subscription-based” software is essentially leased.

      Whether the (proprietary) software in question is “subscription-based” or “eternally licensed”, you never own it. You cannot do with it whatever you like. It is proprietary and the “intellectual property” in it is not yours.

  • Hello Oliver McGough, It is the first time I am visiting this website. Could you tell me flat design works right?

  • Tarian

    Flat design “worked” in the days of DOS – before Windows 1.0 – when functionalty and choice were limited.

    Flat “might” work today if the User only has a handful of things to do.

    Anything more and “flat” destroys working effectiveness by disguising navigation.
    “Is that slab (tile) a passive panel with a headline – or is it an active link ? …..
    Let’s explore with the pointer until the hand appears.”

    Doubt creates hesitation – leading to delay and just a tiny bit of stress.
    Multiply that doubt thousands of times a day and “flat” is a pain.

    “Flat”, by removing shadows to indicate depth one element above another, destroys window and content hierarchy – losing distinction between primary and secondary activities – especially when one is switching between them.
    More doubt and hesitation.

  • dipper

    Widespread use of flat design – as a propaganda of homosexuality and causes the same disgust!

  • mustdisqus

    It’s here to stay as far as technology is concerned, at least when it comes to overlarge easy to find buttons and imagery taking up half a page. The whole point of an over-simplified look is obviously to make computers more inviting and accessible to those with either little know-how or interest. The assumption may be that people either don’t want to learn (they have no patience) – or shouldn’t have to if we can make things easier for them, obviously equaling more potential profit.
    Provided no one goes overboard with any color scheme, simplification works, and with the right layout can be a quick and easy way to look professional. The techies that prefer the more ‘classic’ computer look of course will probably hate this, stating everything is being dumbed-down for the masses. To an extent this is perhaps true, but everything has it’s place.
    The windows 8 default interface look is ok (now 8.1 and 10’s metro start screen) but whether you want this ‘media centre’ look for every single program interface or website is something else. If anything, microsoft should have chosen a better font, and perhaps should have given users a choice of what style to use for it’s menus. The future may be a mix of the less flat with more variation in fonts (flat seems to use the same ones all the time) whilst retaining a simple layout with large buttons etc. I am seeing endless pages of skeumorphism (mimicking real world objects) vs flat, claiming the former is the ‘next big thing’. Apple seemingly ditched this style around 2013 for it’s apps

  • I am happy to found your article. I was seeking to know about the design. you told very clearly. Thanks for sharing the great information with us- Oliver McGough!

  • You easy to explain things in such great detail in a way that is easy to understand.

  • Panos Roditakis

    Flat looks lighter and more pleasant to the eye, no matter how we try to argue against it.

    • Tarian

      “Flat” is like driving through a snowy landscape – with few distinct feature to navigate by – and the occasional large slab / building.
      Flat lacks the detail of everyday life – that most humans manage to live with quite well – and navigate by.

      It is one thing for people to minimalise their private home – quite another to impose their design “aesthetic” on a public space – esp. when it impairs functionality.

      • Panos Roditakis

        Very interesting selection of words, but….
        …your monitor is not a snowy landscape, but a small artificial area of flashing lights that form pictures of information.

        • Tarian

          Assuming one has a “task” – both a snowy landscape and a “small artificial area of flashing lights” require navigation.

          In the case of a website, that task is communicating information – and navigation is (normally) necessary to aid the communication of info..

          The point is ….. a snowy landscape communicates info less well than a “normal” landscape – because it appears much more uniform.
          (Other than a desert,) a non-snowy landscape has millions of pixels of info – and somehow humans have managed to assimilate them.

          So why do so many web-designers think it necessary ” to strip down to bare essentials” – other than to impose THEIR “design aesthetic” ?

          • Panos Roditakis

            Eee? What?

  • well said indeed…the flat design is everywhere and boring i should say…they should start making changes.

  • zormpas

    I completely and utterly DETEST “flat design”. Its ugly, garish, yet low contrast at the same time. Soft grey fonts on glaring white backgrounds are hard to read. Its part of the decontenting and dumbing down of both the Internet, and computing in general, apparently as a direct result of the smartphone crowd.

    No thank you.

  • As business flat design or interior design right now is very popular by this way people dont only design their home they also design office, kitchen, garden, book self and many more things which is really important. But at one time it wont be popular like right now. These days are totally high tech era people can finding anything from the internet, and nowadays lots of cell phone application can design flat with very easily. People can easily design their house or office with different interior application, so dont need pay extra bucks to others, when one app can set what material should be add here. Thanks,,,, for sharing informative idea. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f6ab19c0db6cc5347ee899e3e054b7451a5ebac89c6f62b84d1c235b198ccdaa.jpg

  • Your Blog is beautiful thanks for this great inspiration…..

  • Panos Roditakis

    The discussion is long but at the end: would you go ahead and read a book with colors, shadows, gradients and backgrounds? If you want effects, watch a movie, internet is functional information.

  • Kyle Hill

    phones aren’t computers no matter how much “cores” they have. they are a portable telephone. you dial it,it rings.
    majority of phone users care nothing more thus it’s okay to “rent” things as they aren’t computer users never were. too hard/complicated.etc so don’t understand concept of owing a product where as desktop users were always about custom control even if the machine was a piece of crap you could have a good OS. RIP XP. XP did all that and was just getting stable enough even old people like my grandma took computer courses then MS had this jolly good idea that we all want an Iphone experience due to touting “PC in your pocket” which it is more of a telephone grown up.

  • Kyle Hill

    do you ask your landline company for this or that feature added? odds are you don’t and it’s astronomically small they will even take your request seriously. Same concept with smartphones thus it’s easy to nickle and dime you for everything you do. smartphones are ‘metered’ PC’s at best if they reach a powerful enough stage. the industry wants that to be ALL you have as they can control what you are allowed to access/see.

  • Your design concept is really good. I hope you are a pro level designer. Thanks

  • I gone through your article. I gathered lot of design concepts from your writing. As a mid level designer i recommended your design concept. Thanks once again for sharing it.

  • Mobile friendly website is essential for your own business. It’s grow your business rapidly. Thank your kindly information.

  • Tarian

    Interesting …..
    The dozens of posts here critiquing Flat design have disappeared – including the one claiming that “Flat” was different from “Minimalist”.

    Flat design loses context and hierarchy – whereas panels with shading and colour help navigation.
    Flat and Minimalist lose valuable details, e.g. borders, colour gradientsand coloured text – which help distinguish active links from passive areas.
    Flat, monotone icons are often ambiguous. Websites that make all icons the same colour compound the problem.

    But most of all Flat is just infantile and disrespectful of Users.

    Flat and Minimalist says:
    ” we don’t care what the Visitor wants – we are going to design something with as little effort (craft) as possible – and claim it is “aesthetic” – regardless of how many micro-doubts and hesitation that gives Visitors”.

    Put simply:
    How easy is it to navigate in a snowy landscape ???

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