With constant advancements in technology, we’re not used to hearing the word “limiting” anymore. As designers in a computer era (as opposed to back in the day when everyone relied on early printers), we can creatively run wild. Web design is always changing as designers perfect new techniques and understand what the internet is capable of.
Now, with a shift to mobile, web designers are stepping back and realizing that fancy graphics don’t translate to the small screens. All of a sudden, new technology is actually limiting design!
The good news is that design trends are shifting along with the limitations and we are seeing a movement towards flat design, which looks pretty awesome. Nick Bilton recently posted his observations about flat design in his article, “The Flattening of Design” on the New York Times’ Bits blog and it was so good that we thought we should include some of it here.
“There are cultural and technological reasons for this new look and feel.
Steven Heller, co-chairman of the M.F.A. Design Department at the School of Visual Arts and author of more than 150 books on design culture, said that part of the push toward flat design was to try to escape the overabundance of design that looks digital, where things ‘have started to look cliché.’
‘Every so often there is a new fashion that comes about in design for any number of reasons, not the least of which is technology, and now there has been a reaction to mechanistic-looking design where you press a button and get a specific look,’ Mr. Heller said. ‘In response, designers have started to turn to flatness.’
One of the biggest drivers for this stylistic change is being forced upon designers by the constraints of smartphones.
Justin Van Slembrouck, design director at Digg, the social news site, said that while some design decisions were made as stylistic choices, ‘it is increasingly being driven by mobile, where you’re designing for the lowest common denominator so you can’t load a site up with heavy graphics.’ He added, ‘The end result, with flat design, is that it all feels less cluttered.’
In some respects, flat graphics can be seen as a nod back to early print, specifically Russian propaganda war posters. At the time, before computers — yes, there was such an era — designers were forced to create flat images because of printing constraints. Now it seems to be happening again, but with screens.
When today’s graphics are too busy — layered with gradients and elaborate typography — people are forced to try to navigate a clutter of information in a very small space. On a smartphone screen, for example, a flat icon of a musical note can tell a story much quicker than an intricate picture of a shiny sparkling CD.” – Read the whole post here.
You’ll notice that we love the clean look of flat design. You can find it lurking around our site and the other sites we’ve worked on. In fact, one of our other favourite web design trends, parallax scrolling, works great with flat design. Read our blog post about parallax web design to learn more!