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A Quick Guide to Flat Graphic Design

Dec 10, 2014

The long standing and seemingly never ending battle between Apple and Microsoft has taken many forms over the years. For a while it seemed like it was being fought as a proxy battle between those with network administration training and people with 3d animation training because Mac was for art and PC was for business. These days, the war has moved to a new front – design.

Flat Design Versus Skeuomorphic Design

As of late, Apple has clearly opted to use a form of design known as skeuomorphic. You can tell this style when you see real life objects on the screen. The stencil pages used in the iPhone’s Notes App is a good example of this, as are the vintage microphone and VU meter displayed on the screen in the Voice Memos App. While the meter does go up and down depending on the volume of what’s being recorded, the mic image is purely decorative.

Microsoft has decided to go a different route and employ a flat design concept in later products. This is a very minimalist approach to design that doesn’t hide the fact that it is a digital creation. Have a look at the Windows 8 home screen on either a PC or smartphone. The way all the options are clearly displayed as tiles, for the most part only using basic icons to identify them, is a perfect example of Flat Design.

Flat Design Basics

If you’re working on a minimalist concept at interior design college, there are well-established tricks of the trade you can use to bring it to life. When it comes to digital Flat Design, however, it’s still a new concept, so some of the ways to implement it are still being discovered. There are, however, a few basics that have already been established:

  • Focus on Content: With flat design, content is not only king, it’s pretty much all that people should notice. You should think of the easiest, simplest way for people to understand what the content is and access it, and implement that without any potentially distracting elements.
  • Colours are Important: With a no-frills approach, colours and sometimes gradients of colours are used to categorize elements, make them stand out and show what people can click on. Don’t be afraid to use bold colours.
  • Use Simple Icons: Whenever possible, implement easy to understand icons into your design. Think about being the most basic and user-friendly you possibly can be. If you’re trying to demonstrate that a particular paragraph of text or a link is about, say, a company’s financial future, why not use a simple dollar sign to demonstrate that?
  • Make Sure the Font Matches: One thing that can defeat the purpose of a flat design is a garish or over-the-top font. Remember to keep your fonts simple. They can be bold, just not too out- there.

Are you a fan of flat design? Do you plan to use it in your future work? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: 3D Animation, Interior Design and Architecture, Technology and Computer Networking
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