Today’s graphic design landscape is vast, and it’s still transforming. Various design trends make their mark while many of them are gone forever. In this arrival and departure of trend, the two design trends that make a lot of buzz are — flat design and skeuomorphism.
These are the key factors that influence the efficiency of a UI (User Interface). It is the usability that originates from how it’s been designed. UI also refers to the overall user experience created out of its use via a Web, desktop and mobile app. In a couple of years, flat design and skeuomorphism have been in the silent battle with each other.
The more the technological advances were made, the fierce the battle between the two became. Designing user-friendly interfaces for ever-growing technology is a challenging process. But how would you make this complex tech persuasive for the common users? As you know, many designers (the ones who are into UI design) have favored other ways or gone with skeuomorphs.
Take for an example— Apple’s iOS. Here, the icon of the phone resembles the classic telephone receiver. Even, the email icon appears as a paper envelope. Here, it makes sense to say that we interact with the object but not in the form they are supposed to be.
Let’s start by understanding the flat design and skeuomorphism one-by-one.
It is the most basic and minimalistic way of design that includes bright colors, clean lines, and flat or 2D illustration techniques. You can associate flat design with Windows 8. When you look closely, you find that the Windows having a user-focused interface with elements in a flat design.
The flat design approach doesn’t include many design choices. It often comes with solid colors as said earlier but with a few or zero details. As far as gradients and shades are concerned, it doesn’t have many choices as well.
It is considered the best design preference for navigating apps and usability. But it is often considered confusing as it pays less attention to detail. However, for a good design approach, you need to invest your time and effort. For example, if you don’t have time or expertise, you can use a logo maker for logo design in minutes. But for sharpness and attention to detail, you need to invest your time in strategizing all the steps, sketching, competitive logo analysis, and all.
For a logo icon, you need to focus on curves, edges, angles, and all the possible dimensions to come up with the right image.
Why use it?
A flat design pitches high on a raw functionality. It counters the manmade design elements for a basic design. You can get the example of flat design by looking at iOS and Microsoft interfaces. As this design approach focuses more on functionality, it makes the user experience more efficient and practical. The user focuses more on the purpose than the design of the app.
Because the flat design focuses on simplicity, your mobile or web app with no gradients, drop shadows, and effects provide a clean and clear user experience. Also, it makes graphics load faster without any glitch.
As it comes with minimal aesthetics, it influences designers to take the hierarchy of the objects, buttons information, and color information more seriously.
When this concept gets into reality, you get a stunningly designed minimal aesthetic that guides the users easily to the desired product.
Skeuomorphism refers to realism design. It means the design that imitates real objects, shapes, shadows and more. It is like drawing an illustration that looks like a real image or 3D. Skeuomorphism suggests a particular theme for an application but it often comes too jumbled that impacts the functionality.
The design concept always comes with a green (which is seldom used these days) background. A designer can do it in the right way as it is very intuitive, but it always has a scope of improvement. Brands such as Apple decided to use modern design concepts that focus on functionality, not just the form.
Gradually, the use of Skeuomorphism is taking a halt due to the rise of more mobile devices. Nowadays, apps have to be more user-friendly, responsive and fast. The speed cannot be compromised. As usability and functionality are the core strength of an app, the flat design comes handy.
Why use Skeuomorphism?
When it comes to shape recognition, our brain takes the signals sent by our eyes and then translates it. The use of shadows, shades, and even details helps differentiate between a cube, ball or a cartoon box. Our brain is capable of naturally identifying the textures, depths, levels, and features.
Basically, Skeuomorphism is a bit more intuitive from the users’ point of view to use objects that are closer to reality. It trains the brain to identify the objects even with shallow details and shadows. As compared t flat design, it looks way more stylish.
Take for an example, Safari’s compass browser icon. It has a Skeuomorphic design. The Compass has drop shadows with a gradient that give it a three-dimensional look. It appears close to an actual compass.
Flat design vs. Skeuomorphism
Both the design approaches have their own benefits. Healthy use of these design aspects can help you get a clean and intuitive experience.
But the design philosophy, as well as process, favors a flat design concept. The Web is full of so much information. You, being a designer, have to highlight and find out what’s most important for a design’s perspective.
It should be clear, bold and shouldn’t get a snag with fancy design elements. Once you find out that part, you can decide the hierarchy of the design easily. Use both design aspects in moderation to achieve your design goals.
When designing an app or something else, it is essential to choose a style that best represents your business’ goals by conveying your content in the best way possible. Look into the pros and cons of both design styles to build an app relevant to your brand’s value.
Whether you go for a flat design or skeuomorphic design, keep usability and user experience in mind. Optimize the app well for the end users.