Flat And Thin Mobile Devices Are In
In the past few years, we have seen a rapid shift in software and app interface design, from 3-D and skeuomorphic to flat and minimal. Even though this trend has become almost universal, it’s important to understand how we arrived here and how it’s influenced interface design as a whole. Furthermore, we’ll explore some effective techniques on designing flat interfaces.
As a culture that is constantly connected, we experience a continual stream of information, some of it significant but most of it isn’t. We are regularly evaluating, filtering and creating content, and this can get fairly tiring. Additionally, a lot of the content consumption has shifted to devices with small screens, making the amount worse. Being overwhelmed by all of it is very easy, and a reduction of clutter in a user interface (UI) can create a little visual peace.
Similarly, many disruptive Web apps and services are providing highly focused tools that have very limited features. Compared with traditional software developers who load their products with a variety of useful features to justify the high cost, the switch towards focused micro-apps favours simplicity over feature set. Simplistic apps mean simpler interfaces. When new devices and technologies enter the market, everyone is intrigued by what they are capable of and how we can advance interactivity. This interface frenzy is normally followed by a return to a focus on content. Media consumption, whether of text, audio or video, is probably the activity we engage in most on our devices, and for that use case, we just want the interface to get out of the way.
As smartphone and tablet adoption has quickly penetrated all user demographics, concern about the simplicity of controls has gone down. Before, people worried that users might miss a button if it didn’t pop off the screen; we are currently open to exploring subtler communications. Windows 8 and Chrome for Android even support touch commands that start off screen, without any visual indicator. Most software will be restricted by the platform that it runs on. Screen dimensions and pixel density are the restricting elements of hardware. A minimal interface calls for a really limited design palette. Typographic scale and font weight will greatly determine both the aesthetics and usability of a flat design.
If your target devices aren’t able to handle the level of nuance, then you’re out of luck. As the size of the screen and pixel density continue to increase on mobile devices, thinner and smaller type can be presented with better clarity. Of course, support for @font-face has also boosted the appeal of minimal typographic-focused designs. With the increase of connected devices of various dimensions, Uls have had to become more fluid, and the responsive design movement has responded. Whilst responsive design doesn’t call for a particular aesthetic, one could certainly argue that flat Uls lend themselves to it more easily than most other styles. The other advantage of minimal design is the reduction in page weight and loading time.
In terms of practical considerations, creating effective minimal design is shockingly challenging. As you look deeper into common UI methods (drop shadows, bevels, textures etc.), you promptly realise how crucial the other elements remaining become. Like with any project, the initial step is to make sure that your chosen style makes logical sense. Before starting a flat design, you must ensure that it aligns with your target user’s sensibilities and your target platform, devices and application type. It’s pointless following a trend if it isn’t right for your project.