E-commerce Link: The Rise of Flat Design
Because flat designs attempt to remove any extraneous design elements, what is left on the page grows in importance. Shape, color and typography often take center stage. The shapes of things like buttons or icons typically tend toward simple geometric shapes like rectangles, squares and circles. Sometimes corners are rounded, but bevels and gradients are often missing. In its purest form, even drop shadows are missing from flat designs; however, they are sometimes used to provide more visual interest or prominence.
Color plays a strong role in flat designs. Typically, colors are brighter, bolder and more numerous than in typical interfaces. This creates striking contrast between different elements in the interface and can be used to indicate functionality and draw focus. Buttons will often be consistently the same color and will stand in strong contrast to the rest of the page. It is through this consistency and contrast that users quickly understand the relationship between the color and functionality.
With the removal of other decorative elements, typography becomes a major element for conveying the interface's style and mood. Decorative and custom fonts for logos and headlines can set a very definite tone. Much like other shapes in flat design, fonts without added dimensionality, gradients, drop shadows or outlines are used. Type also is generally presented at a larger point size and with more spacing around it. This allows the type to have a greater presence within the design.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Flat Design
The use of these design principles does offer some potential user experience benefits and drawbacks. As fewer elements compete for attention, users are able to quickly scan and find what they need more quickly. This also helps limit the information and choices presented to users, allowing them to explore the site without being overwhelmed by information. Clean, brightly colored buttons highlight calls to action, encouraging deeper engagement with your interface.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.copresco.com