The flat design movement is another reason to demonstrate why chasing design fads are not such a good idea. Microsoft were the ones who started this thing when they redesigned their logo. Apple products were ubiquitous and we were all fully immersed in Jony Ive’s skeuomorphism. I recall Gates & Co. were not treated very nicely regarding that new icon. When Windows8 and Metro rolled out, I thought the flat design worked well for them, helping their brand stand apart from, well – everyone else at the time. And guess what, Apple seems to like it, too. Hence the start of flat design. Imagine that. Apple design mimicking Window’s lead on design trends.
Less is, uh…Less?
Soon, after, I started seeing a lot of new and newly redesigned websites going this route of extreme minimalism and moving away from the evil drop shadow. I was starting to think that maybe the style sheets were not loading up. Now, I don’t find anything wrong with flat design, I just think that it’s simply another tool in the toolbox. Use it where it’s called for, but not everywhere all the time. And shadows are still good. It’s understandable that along with the rise of mobile comes the culture of instant gratification. Websites need to load faster and apps need to give me feedback to the touch. And Google just fans the flame by reinforcing that pageloads directly affect the quality or pagerank of a site. Go SEO. Yeah, so flat design can do away with loading up those heavy JPGs and PNGs in favor of featherlite CSS colors. I get that.
I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Here comes the ‘longshadow’ movement. Longshadow takes a flat design element like an icon, for instance, and applies a long 45 degree shadow to it to give it depth – and interestingly, a sense of time. Pretty nice tool to have in the toolbox. Is this now the happy medium between skeuomorphism and flat design? I hope not. CSS3 & HTML5 have so many little tricks up the sleeve when it comes to merging form and function that there’s no excuse for not innovating and pushing those as much as possible. From animations and gradients, to drop shadows and radiused corners, there’s a lot of exploring to do here. Getting stuck in a design rut is not an option.
Next up, the circle avatar. groan