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Why Flat Design? Why now?

1 min read

Flat Design

Let’s take it from the beginning. At first it was the command line interface, not that much usable because of its non-existent discoverability, limiting the users only to advanced ones. When Douglas Engelbart envisioned and shaped the first graphical interface, it was a real breakthrough, giving the opportunity to any user to essentially interact and discover the computer functionalities in a more affordable way.

Since then, the graphical interface evolved into a way to resemble the real world — such as the use of folder and file images for computer filing systems or a letter symbol for email (trash cans, folders, mail etc.) — to make computers feel more familiar to users.This evolution came to its peek with skeuomorphism, when smartphones first appeared in our lifes. Skeuomorphism let people act as if they were using objects from the real world and in that way enhance their experience with something familiar to them.

Despite how familiar to the user this design was, it was also constrained by being bound to physical objects even though computers are not subject to those constraints.

Users have become experienced enough to let this kind of design go. Computers and their functionality have now got under the skin of their users. People don’t need anymore this real world resemblance (to their device interaction), which actually distracts them from the main reason of their device interaction. People need to focus on the content of their interaction. Thus a simplistic content-based design offering enough space, getting rid off all this clutter that skeuomorphism presented is in need. This is where flat design comes in. Inspired by minimalism and content enhancement, flat design simple and elegant offers a new kind of user experience — more content with less distraction -more space with less elements to engage users attention.

An often heard expression “mobile first” has now become “mobile only”. The integration of smartphones in our lives and their extended everyday use, replacing the use of computer in many situations , was the prevalent reason that lead us to concentrate on content.

Moving to smaller screens on mobile devices, we don’t need all this information overload. We just need to focus on the main reason we use these devices. The content is the king that engages us users at last.