– I want an Apple-type presentation!
– An Apple type?
– Yeah! You know. Really clean-looking?
More and more these days, we’re having this back-and-forth. The problem is that there’s a new type of clean design, Flat Design, that’s becoming a movement these days, but “flat” doesn’t necessarily equal the “clean-looking Apple design.”
Unlike Apple’s “clean” approach, Flat Design is in fact the opposite of an old design style, skeumorphism (from the Greek, it has to do with “a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique”). This means that the old-style design involved imitation. Apple used skeumorphism a lot in the 80’s, when the “desktop” was introduced, to simulate buttons, keyboards, shelves, books and a myriad of other analog elements on its digital interfaces.
Simply put, when we were all newbies to the digital world, this imitating style was a great way to interface between the virtual and the real. We recognized everything.
But times have changed.
These days, a two-year-old can touch a TV screen and change channels, turn up the sound, even interact with a cartoon. For the most part, people don’t need to learn anymore how to get around in the digital and online worlds. We’re now being born into them and we know how to live there.
And here is where Flat Design comes in
Flat Design has arrived at a time when the focus more than ever is on the user. The style was developed to highlight and facilitate information flow, to eliminate the superfluous and minimize communication “noise.” But in the Flat world, things like gradients, embossing, shadows, textures, contours, reflections and so on have no place. The purpose of Flat Design is to simplify the day-to-day user experience. When we encounter a web page, a mobile app or anything else in this style, we feel a certain relief because things tend to be easier to understand when they’re in a simplified, uncluttered environment.
The seeds of Flat Design lay in Modernism, a style that characterized the Bauhaus and Ulm schools. The focus is almost totally on function and not form.
And what an irony! It was Apple’s nemesis that was made popular in the marketplace by Flat Design. For with the release of Windows 8, Microsoft brought to the digital world the same modernist concepts already in use in the graphic design world. And that is where it all began.
Since the Windows 8 launch in October 2012, Flat Design has won fans. And even Apple has begun to move away from skeumorphism toward the Flat movement. Still, Apple hasn’t been able to fully abandon its use of small effects here and there, while Microsoft is totally into minimalist design – solid colors, angular shapes and fonts very well designed – and nothing else!
But don’t be fooled! Flat may be simple and minimalist, but it’s far from easy to create. Simple is complex, less is more! When an interface is reduced to the basics, to highlight content, making the most of color and typography, the result is an appealing and sophisticated interface that isn’t easy to accomplish.
Because when you work with the barest minimum, the impact of every wrong choice is raised to the nth degree and errors are much more in-your-face. This is why the choices of colors, typefaces, shapes, and especially the layout of these elements, must be made carefully and in light of the messages, when working in the Flat Design style.
Here, all the elements must be presented with one goal: to bring visual clarity to the communication. Adding other things like pictures can be interesting, but only when they’re consistent with the more Flat Design traditional elements. In this case, exactly because you’re doing something different, breaking the “rule,” the right picture can be a pleasant surprise.
The focus of Flat Design, as well as of Modernism, is the user. In this world, design is regarded as more important than aesthetics. And this is why it’s so important that the didactic, minimalist approach doesn’t interfere with the conveying of content.
So, now, if you still think you want a clean-type presentation, you know you probably want a Microsoft-type presentation, not an Apple type.
Check here two examples of Flat Design Presentations:
To learn more: