Skeuomorphic vs Flat Design

5 Reasons Why You Should Reconsider Flat Design

Branding and Design Digital Marketing

Designers today seem to have taken to flat design because it feels sharp and futuristic, and allows them to focus on an enriching user experience. The problem in this is that many of these designers will flatten everything in sight thinking of it as a cure-all. And considering that design can make or break a digital marketing strategy, here are 5 reasons why you should give this new trend a second thought before taking a final call.

Skeuomorphic vs Flat Design

Skeuomorphic vs Flat Design

1. Flat design lacks intuition

Even a great–looking website design could be difficult to use for a regular person. Not everyone is a designer. It’s a common thing today to see designs reduced to their bare minimum for the sake of simplicity or aesthetics, resulting in the lack of some very essential visual cues. Some flat designs don’t answer basic questions like what elements are clickable and what aren’t. You know your design needs some serious rethinking when buttons or other UI elements look no different from the rest of the flat elements on the page.

No matter how minimal the design is, if users cannot intuitively find their way through the interface, the design is a failure.

2. Usability

Remember, no amount of flat design can make up for bad usability. UI design is all about empathy. With being a UI designer, comes a responsibility; to help your users towards design that is appropriate for the purpose. Flat design is not the only solution to every project at hand. This new trend is driven by the need for an efficient and user friendly experience, but the current reality is much to the contrary. Stripping buttons of their three dimensional properties makes it hard to be identified as something you can act upon.

The challenge lies in keeping things simple and doing justice to functionality at the same time.

3. Bandwagon Effect?

When something looks cool, a lot of people just copy the same elements into their own designs, using very little imagination. We have reached a point where differentiating between websites has become increasingly difficult.  Taking to a certain design style just for the sake of following the current trend means ignoring the aims of the product and how or why the visitors are going to use it. We do not know how long this trend will last, and designing a product just to keep up with popular practice will result in a design with very poor longevity.

When the web is tired of flat design, what will stand out?

4. How about some moderation? 

Being a fanatic about a certain practice is one thing and doing it with taste is quite another. Flat design is not good or bad; it is possible to keep a minimalistic approach and use shadows and gradients effectively at the same time. A realistic button isn’t wrong. Such elements come with a clear indication that they can be clicked/tapped/swiped. It is a good idea to simplify the content first, and then very subtly add cues of depth on elements that are higher-up in the content hierarchy.

Adapting to any style of design calls for a good amount of taste, empathy and user experience.

5. The Reality

The concept of flat design may definitely seem ideal, but in reality, we have to cater to the needs of time and money both. The actual circumstances are often far away from perfect. Flat UI would be horrible on a website that has millions of unrelated colours, flashy banner-ads and a host of other real world horrors. When designers simply apply flat design like a skin and don’t think through the hard stuff first, it directly translates into downward trending conversion ratios.

And when these issues start to affect the numbers in a large way, another influential individual will come along to blame the trend and the bandwagon will empty very quickly.

What are your thoughts on flat design? Has your digital agency recommended it for any of your projects? Have you used it successfully for a client’s project? I’m all ears for more insights!

Abhishek is a part of the Ethinos search team and helps client with various search techniques.

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