E-commerce Link: The Rise of Flat Design
Careful consideration and testing should go into determining the content and functionality hierarchy for flat designs. A beautiful flat design interface that does not meet the needs of its users will leave them frustrated and with a negative experience.
Elements like icons can definitely streamline an interface, but they can also quickly become a source of frustration. Using new or unfamiliar icons can cause confusion with users as they try to interpret the meaning. Staying close to established iconographic conventions would help promote understanding. If new icons are desired, it's best to test them with a wide range of users to confirm their meaning is understood.
Flat designs work well for responsive sites. Highly skeuomorphic designs can have difficulty adapting to changing screen sizes. Sometimes there can be unforeseen distortions in design elements due to aspect ratio changes and text wrapping. The minimal geometric nature of flat designs allows them to easily adapt to various screen sizes.
It is for this reason that Zurb uses flat design in its Foundation HTML responsive prototyping tools (foundation.zurb.com). Websites that use flat design also tend to have less data to load within a browser. This means load times can be faster, especially on mobile devices. This is important, as load times are a major source of frustration for users browsing via mobile.
While it can be argued that flat design is just another trend in Web design, there are some real benefits to adopting it for your interface. As interface design continues to evolve, users are becoming increasingly familiar with digital interfaces and require fewer connections to real-world metaphors to understand how to interact with them. Flat designs are a way to leverage that growing understanding in a way that provides a cleaner, more succinct experience over a wide range of devices.
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 email@example.com or visit www.copresco.com