The Trend of Flat Design

Flat design

Flat design. The term has been all over the Internet in recent months since a few well-known businesses like Google, Bing, and Apple shared their new graphics. But flat design isn’t new – it’s actually a style that’s been around for years.

What is flat design?

Flat design is characterized by a minimalistic look. Shapes are simple, colors are bright but muted, and typography is bold. Graphic design tricks like 3D, bevels, embossing, drop shadows, and textures are set aside in favor of a clean, simple feel. Even the name – flat design – is simple compared to the alternative “skeuomorphic” design trend.

Google flat design

Skeuo what now?

Skeuomorphism uses complex techniques to make graphics look realistic. Apple has historically been a proponent of this method in their apps – ebooks placed on shelves with depth and wood-grain texture, an interface in their voice memo app that resembled a real, old-fashioned microphone, a calendar that looked as if it might actually be made of paper. Skeuomorphism served as a brilliant transition from the real world to the new virtual one. It helped us feel comfortable, to feel as if we were working with items that were familiar to us.

flat design makeover

But perhaps we’ve outgrown that need. Apple made the shift to flat design with the launch of iOS7. That shiny, dimensional, oh-so-touchable design has been replaced by a cleaner interface that many believe puts function over design in a way that will simplify the user experience.


For some clients, it can be difficult to accept the concept of “less is more” when it comes to design. After all, they’re paying good money for a logo or website. Not to worry – if flat design isn’t for you, try “almost-flat design”! With a touch of gradient, for example, or a slight drop shadow, you can add a little interest and texture to a graphic without sacrificing simplicity.

Our thoughts?

We love flat design, and almost-flat design even more. It’s clean. It cuts out unnecessary clutter and distraction. It scales better, a consideration that is especially important with logo design and mobile browsing.

What do you think of flat design? Let us know in the comments!

Danielle O'Malley-Johnson
Danielle has a BFA in Graphic Design from Central Washington University. When she isn't designing - or reading design books - she loves to decorate and spend time with her husband and two small children. Her favorite coffee order is a Chai Latte.
Danielle O'Malley-Johnson
Danielle O'Malley-Johnson
Danielle O'Malley-Johnson

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