Those in the web design industry are acutely aware of how quickly and radically trends in web design can change. A few years ago,black and white was all the rage. The design principle was to allow design elements other than color take center stage (font, illustration, text layout, etc.). This was also around the time that responsive web design started taking off, as it happens.
After people began to get bored of monochromatic, flat design, 3D and layers took over. We began seeing slideshows which resemble the view in the old View-Master toys some of us remember. Creating the illusion of depth via color, shadow and parallax was the thing.
Currently, the trend as moved back to flat, but also colorful. The inspiration behind this shift is the rise in usage of touch devices and mobile technology. The emphasis is on uncluttered design (which describes every web design trend since 2000) that gives priority to content and APIs (web application interfaces). Interestingly, this trend is driven more by functionality than some previous trends have.
In my experience, the flat and colorful trend is largely due to Microsoft’s release of Windows 8 as well as the new Office 360 apps. The first appearance I can trace is the Windows 8 touch navigation interface. I surmise the design of Windows 8 came as a result not of technological development, but of patents – specifically patents held by Apple and Samsung.
Regardless of its origin, it is a design trend which has taken root among front-end designers for its ease of use and flexibility for featuring content.
Does this mean you should rush out to have your website redesigned to keep up with the ‘Flat and Thin’ trend? in a word, no. If you currently have a well-designed website which provides users with an easy-to-use interface on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, then you probably have little to worry about.
On the other hand, if your website still uses a fixed grid which isn’t responsive for the variety of internet-capable devices now in use, then you should contact Arisen Technologies to see how we can help you.
Long-Term Viability of ‘Flat and Thin’
Like all trends, the ‘flat and thin’ design trend will succumb to the next design trend, whatever that may be. My thought is we’ll see a return to layers which incorporate a panel interface. This is based on the fact that the human eye can only focus on a certain amount of content at once with everything else being reduced to clutter. Allowing users to shift between panels (like pages in a book) allows for a great deal of content to be presented on a page while still allowing a user-friendly interface.