The Pros, Cons, And Future Of Flat Design

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Flat design has become the main thing in contemporary graphic design. It is everywhere, since almost everything has a flat design. There are raging arguments as to its application and validity. Its super-trendy design style brings reactions from all and sundry, but graphic design goes beyond the look of a project or an app. It is all about the proper usage of functions. The world of graphic design changes rapidly, and it is critical for a graphic designer to be up to speed. The entire industry is shifting from skeuomorphism and 3D, to minimal and flat design.

Flat web design is a famous concept that pays attention to the user. It makes use of two dimensions to advocate for straightforward navigation of devices. It comes with simple elements in design, such as high color contrasts, shapes and blocks which a user can easily change, resize or move. There has been a heated debate about its limitations, uses, and its future.

Since there is a lot of information about the changes that graphic design has undergone, it is irrefutable that flat design is one of the hottest and latest trends. Flat design has its roots in minimalist design. It is a simple style that carries an array of definitions and forms. Read on to find the advantages, disadvantages, and the future of flat design.

It is not 3D

The flat design name comes from its bi-dimensional qualities, as seen from the use of flat shapes and other details that allow the creation of dimension and depth. Such features include highlights, textures and shadows.

It is not skeuomorphic

Flat design came into being as an antagonist to skeuomorphism. The designers suggested that it resembles real-world processes and objects. Skeuomorphism makes use of reflections, bevel and emboss, drop shadows, realistic features, embossing and glows.

Designers started using flat design as a style in 2012 and 2013 owing to the release of iOS 7 and Windows 8. The modular layout of Windows has vibrant blocks of color, and the use of simplified icons and clean shapes in Apple. The influences that shaped the development of flat design are evident, as well as the trend that came thereafter. UXPin’s staff, while working for Fast Company Design thinks the best part of flat design is the abandonment of skeuomorphic and original trend ideas. However, since flat design has been in use for some time and it is still getting better, it is more than a statistic of passing trends.


1. It is trendy

As mentioned earlier, flat design is currently one of the most popular graphic design methods. You can see it all over, in print, web design, brand design and packaging, among other areas. Projects that make use of flat design are on top, and the style has gained wide recognition and acceptance from many graphic designers.

2. It is compatible with responsive design

Since Apple and Microsoft started using flat design in their apps, the style gained quick recognition as a fresh approach. It is a popular method to use in mobile and web design for good reason. It is easy to apply the principles of flat design to other categories of graphic design, but its simple graphics and grid-based layouts are the best to use in mobile and web design. This is because a designer can easily rearrange or resize them to have a perfect display on different screen sizes and devices. The number of people accessing the internet via mobile devices is higher than those who access the internet via desktops, so the choice of flat design should be automatic. Ryan Allen says flat design is easier to scale down to an appropriate size that fits content properly, rather than the pixel-perfect design.

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3. It has a flexible framework

You can use any name to refer to it, be it blocks, modules, cards or a grid. Most designers that prefer flat design have their compositions looking like geometric shapes. This unique type of layout ensures every element has a place, and is easy to navigate and scan. A graphic designer can shape a grid into various configurations since it is a flexible framework, and can therefore create the best design that fits and displays all content. It is no longer tenable to squeeze all content onto a pre-arranged layout.

4. Its typography is clear

Since flat design does not have three-dimensional effects and has an ease of visibility, flat design makes designers approach typesetting uniquely. Since flat design enables graphic designers to streamline their typography, it has no shadows which makes it easy to read text.

5. Sharp and clean visuals

One of the most significant features that makes flat design so interesting and appealing is the sharp design. Designers use the minimalist style to make flat design icons, buttons, lines and shapes, which gives stunning visual appeal. The boldness, typography and bright colors have high contrast which make the designs easy to comprehend and clean.


1. It is not distinctive

Every brand or business wants its design to communicate their unique features as far as visual communication is concerned. They could use apps, websites, posters, or brochures to relay their message. Flat design is limited due to the constraints the strict rules and minimalist approach impose on it. Since it has a limited choice of principles, loosely designed visuals will be on the rise using a combination of some trends in graphic design.

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2. Designers have compromised its usability

As designers attempt to insist on the streamlined and clean qualities of flat design, some of them pay too much attention to aesthetics. This affects the usability of flat design. It is not easy to tell what is clickable and what is not, since everything lies on a flat screen. You cannot view critical actions and features in the name of looking for simplicity.

3. It focuses overly on trending aesthetics

Flat design is a popular choice for most graphic designers who love having their work on reflective and modern flat technology. However, a challenge with trends is that you can apply them today to appease users, without paying attention to how useful they are. This results in an aimless choice of designs.

The future of flat design

As many graphic designers have experimented with flat design in the past few years, most of them have noticed some of the pros and cons and adjusted accordingly. Although the early flat design iterations had simple visibility, the recent introduction of texture and shadows is for functional and aesthetic reasons. It resulted in the rise of flat 2.0 design that almost looked like the original flat design. It is a compromise design that shows the simplicity of graphic design. However, it has additional skeuomorphic qualities for improved usability and visibility. Some of the techniques include the addition of depth, shadows, color variation and dimension.

Material design

Using most of the common characteristics of Flat 2.0 design is a critical visual language that developers in Google understand. It accentuates features and layouts that are similar to a grid, as well as large-scale typography, edge-to-edge imagery and deliberate choice of colors. If we take the material to be a metaphor, material design applies a paper-inspired approach, where a graphic designer grounds the visual choices on reality.

Whether or not you prefer skeuomorphism or flat design, both of them can work together as long as the content and context are okay. The most delicate issue is to strike a balance between the two.

What do you think is the future of flat design? Will it incorporate the design trends that are coming up? Feel free to share your insights and thoughts in the comment section below!              

Posted 25 November, 2017


Designer // Writer // Creative

Tom is a Design Correspondent for He is currently based in Melbourne and spends most of his non-work moments trying to find the best coffee.

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