Flat design is a style of graphic design whose popularity has grown significantly over the past decade. Defined by its simplistic visual charm, flat design omits any harsh details in favor of bold, solid shapes that are pleasant to look at and easy to take instruction from.
Some people refer to flat design as a form of “visual purification”. Instead of using intricate particles, shadows, and highlights to make the designs stand out, flat design relies on its sober straightforwardness to make an impact.
You only have to browse the internet for a few minutes to come across a good example of flat design, as it’s a hallmark characteristic of modern and current graphic design.
Let’s have a look at some examples of this iconic web aesthetic and find out what makes it so influential.
What Makes Flat Design Appealing?
Before flat design became popular in the early and mid-2000s, graphic design was largely about detail, maximalism, and being visually “loud”.
People were less accustomed to the internet’s user interface, stimulating the need for exciting, attention-grabbing visuals. But two decades down the line, internet users now have different needs.
The web is bursting at the seams with information and intensity, causing users to crave visuals with a more simplistic, calming effect. By removing the superficial elements of web design (gloss, shadow, detail etc.), flat design lets go of the bells and whistles to deliver a clearer, more pacifying aesthetic.
Web users are drawn to flat design because it offers a visual (and mental) reprieve from the clutter of the internet. Often compared to the Bauhaus art movement of the 20th century, flat design can be recognized by its minimalism, bold contrasts, space occupation optimization, and distinctly 2D images.
Here are seven examples of flat design you might see on your daily browse around the internet in 2022.
The Google Logo
Google’s iconic logo has seen a long history of design evolution. From the janky, pixelated original that stormed the web in 1997 to the feat of minimalistic flat design it boasts today, Google’s logo has become an icon of the contemporary flat design movement.
The shapes comprising the letters themselves are all symmetrical, balanced, and completely stripped of their previous detail, delivering a smooth, unpretentious logo. Although there is some individuality to be found in the use of all four primary colors, this logo is a true lesson in peak performance flat design.
Upsly is a sales and marketing design website aimed at providing results-driven visual data. Their design style is classically flat, with simple colors, icons, and layouts that are completely free of clutter.
They use plain text and buttons that stand out only through their contrasting colors, as opposed to harsh outlines or highlights. Upsly’s illustrations are minimalistic and almost childlike, which makes them both easier to read and more appropriate for a wider berth of age demographics. Any shading added to their designs is gentle, creating a soothing, easily absorbable pictorial.
Dots is an extremely popular mobile game company in the US. In this context, the brand uses flat design to add to the usability of the game, incorporating flat shapes and compositions to support the greater game experience.
Dots uses clean and simple shapes to denote easy usability and appropriateness that make it appealing to both children and adults. The level of legibility that flat design brings also makes games like Dots much more applicable for mobile interfaces, which has accelerated its success.
Orizon is an app, brand, and website development company. The liberal use of white space adds to a sense of spaciousness that flat design is often paired with, allowing users to absorb information in a completely distraction-free environment.
Orizon also uses flat texts and icons, creating a highly simplistic and modernistic visual aesthetic. Browsing their site is easy on the eyes, making their message bolder and more legible.
The Twitter Logo
Just like Google, Twitter stands as another shining example of contemporary flat design. Also with a complicated logo history, Twitter’s famous bird logo has been through several major changes before settling on the simplistic gem we are all familiar with today.
Originally based on a more realistic bird design, Twitter’s logo gradually become reduced to a simple bird shape free from any distracting features. The simplicity of the bird icon is part of what makes it so recognizable. Now removed of its orange beak, eyes, and birdlike claws, Twitter’s logo translates as bold, sober, and ultimately very clean.
Marlow is a luxury pillow production brand based in the US. It utilizes a simplistic yet distinctly modern look to appear trustworthy and organic, using strongly defined sections alongside bold shapes and colors. One could look at Marlow as an example of borrowing the main elements of flat design, married with a touch of urban detailism for visual impact.
Marlow’s incorporation of the flat design aesthetic can also apply to the way they have structured their page layouts. They are elegant, minimal, and easy to consume, just like a combined PDF or well-collated document. All in all, this website hits the mark.
Treecard is a banking card company from Ecosia that plants trees for every swipe their cards make. Marrying flat design with gentle details gives this website a cozy, natural feel, utilizing the simplicity of 2D shapes and designs while still retaining a certain liveliness.
Treecard uses color contrast to create most of its drama, which adds to the visual appeal of the site without appearing overly complex or distractive. The navigation bar touts simple, modern buttons that are clean-edged and easy to understand, making this website a great example of current flat design.
Flat design is one of (if not the) most ubiquitous and influential graphic design styles of the 21st century. It’s changed digital and website design for the better, and enhanced the UX dramatically.
There are lots of ways to go about implementing this iconic design aesthetic, but these seven websites really hit the nail on the head. When executed properly, this form of design can create a truly attractive layout, composition, and overall visual effect.