With the advent of Windows 8, and a focus on designing websites for use on smartphones and tablets, the trend amongst web designers has been to move towards what is commonly referred to as flat design. Gone are the days of heavy flash driven websites and designs which tried to make everything look realistic. Old tactics used natural textures, drop shadows and integration of real world objects into design.
The trend is changing, and now less-is-more. The move towards flat UI design has more of a focus on a simplified, classically digital aesthetic. Flat UI designs are here to stay, so it is worth understanding the main aspects of the trend so you can begin to integrate some of it into your own work. Below are the main components of these designs.
One characteristic of the flat UI design trend, is the use of vector graphics, particularly vector icons. Vector icons allow graphics to resize dynamically in order to stay sharp and crisp across all browsers and devices. At the same time, they decrease load times because they’re font-based, rather than comprised of static images. For more information about how to make use of vector icons in your website designs, check out Font Awesome.
Bold Calls to Action
Another major characteristic of modern flat UI design, is a move towards better calls to action (CTAs). These make use of flat design elements and brighter, bolder colors. Previously, websites used big chunky buttons with gradient backgrounds and drop shadows etc. Now the trend is moving towards CTAs which match the flat UI design style of modern sites. To see some of these CTA’s in action, take a look at the ASO home page.
Image and Color Blocks
Windows 8 really ushered in the flat UI design trend, so it’s not surprising to see the use of image and color blocks becoming more popular. In a modern web design context, this is characterised by long, scrolling home pages comprised of stacked container blocks, with each block featuring a different background color or image. More advanced designs, such as the PayPal home page, even make use of video backgrounds which really make the designs pop. However, never at the expense of legibility.
Keep it Minimalistic
As mentioned in the beggining of this post, flat UI design is definitely here to stay. It’s worth taking some time out to have a look around and get some inspiration for your next design, or redesign, and try to incorporate these clean, simple design concepts. Many webmasters and designers have also noted that since moving towards flat UI designs, it’s becoming easier to address issues like mobile responsiveness and cross-browser compatibility. Consequently, users are responding to it in a positive way with increased time on site and decreased bounce rate.
So, if you’re not doing so already, now is the time to get on board the flat UI design train, and roll out your new design, improve usability and enhance your user experience. You’ll be glad you did.