Mobile app design has gone through many phases in its relatively brief existence. The latest theme driving design choices is user experience, as many have argued should have been the goal all along. Primarily because of this goal there has been a shift in mobile app designs to a flat design style.
What is Flat Design?
There aren’t any specific elements that are necessary for a design to be considered ‘flat’. The idea behind a flat design style is to strip away all of the unnecessary ‘features’ that complicate and obstruct function and aesthetics. This means that shadows, gradients, and inconsistent design used to highlight and ‘lift’ certain parts of the interface are not included in a flat design. Effects are incorporated as part of function, rather than visuals.
There are a wide variety of popular apps that use the flat design. Pinterest, the Windows 8 layout, Nike+, and Google Maps all incorporate flat design, and so do many other apps. Here are some more examples.
Principles of Flat Design
While there are certain things that must be avoided, there are also guidelines that should be kept in mind when creating a mobile app that has a flat design.
With flat design the elegance is in simplicity. A mobile user doesn’t need a hundred different options from menus, they want a few clear navigation options and visual points of interest. Why waste valuable screen space on effects and information when they don’t add significant value?
Speed is everything in a mobile app experience. As a result of being simple it is usually easier to optimize a flat mobile app design for speed. Your users might thank you with high ratings in the app store too.
Easy to Click
As users have seen since the emergence of mobile apps, when screens get small, clicking gets hard. There is a distinct and huge difference in user experience when comparing a traditional mobile app design to a flat design. In a traditional design, it often takes several clicks and zooming adjustments for a user to get to the information they want. In a flat design the user can click what they want easily and reliably.
Creating a Flat Mobile App
The best mobile app designs come from professional designers who have years of experience not only in design, but specifically in application or web design. It is important that they understand the struggles that users face with traditional app usage. When working with an experienced designer, consider creating a flat mobile app, as it may just be the most efficient and effective way to creating the best user experience for your end user.