Flat-designed Buttons Push Us into the Future

December 10, 2013
By Forge and Smith

The future of our adaptive Web is flat design, but is anyone truly ready for the future?

Flat design is simple execution. Bold use of solid colours and uncomplicated gradients. Clear typography. Clean lines, not bevels or skeuomorphic nuances. Ultimately, it’s the minimalist’s approach to web system design. More than minimalists prefer flat design because it provides precise online communication. It’s fast. It’s easy to comprehend. Plus it has the increased capacity to convert beautifully on any screen.

Examples of flat design include Android applications, iOS7 for Apple’s iPhone and Metro UI for Windows. Vibrant washes of colour combine with simple features to provide a beautiful and easy-to-use interface. Right after upgrading to these new operating systems, you’ll see that bookshelves no longer look like bookshelves and buttons no longer look like buttons. Why? We no longer need help interpreting what we see onscreen. We no longer need offscreen references, such as shelves, buttons or pages.

I’ve written about my own shift away from skeuomorhpism, specifically movement away from an approach to web design that imitates books and computing environments. Beyond the general consensus of my own web design and development community, are users ready for flat design? What happens when buttons no longer look like buttons?

This exciting new approach to web design has attracted resistance from a vocal few, claiming flat design looks unfinished or lacks key details. In contrast, I feel it arrives at a good time for all of us. As Raphael Ouzan writes it, “We don’t want to be spoon-fed usability anymore—we just want to get to the content as quickly and easily as possible.”

As my colleagues and I have expressed, flat design lets designers, developers and users embrace bigger, bolder and simpler interfaces. For us, web design moves on.

Web design elements, such as Flash animation, small buttons and busy backgrounds, have presented us with the need to modify for mobile and, today, to consider how easily we can share our digital world no matter which device we use. Flat design empowers all of us to focus on the task at hand, rather than getting distracted by unnecessary decor.

What’ll happen when buttons no longer look like buttons? We’ll continue to push them.

Tell me how flat design for user interfaces has inspired you to imagine a better Web.

Forge and Smith

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