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Flat is in! Flat Design vs. Skeuomorphism

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In the last few years, there has been a shift in application and website design from 3-D and ornate to flat and minimal.

The trend emerged as a revolt against “skeuomorphism” – the design concept of making elements imitate their real-world counterparts. With the increased use of mobile phones and touch screen tablets, users began to prefer large, clear buttons to fake leather or wooden user interface controls. Just take a look at Apple’s shift from iOS 6 to iOS 7 for an example.


What is “skeuomorphism”?

A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original.
Source: Wikipedia

All “skeuomorphic” really means is that elements use shadows, gradients, textures and ornate details to reflect the real world object they represent.



Subtle textures and gradients are used above to create a realistic fabric effect.


The shiny chrome style makes this icon resemble a real volume knob.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros Cons
  • Skeuomorphic design lets users know immediately what something is supposed to be.
  • This design style is visually interesting and has lots of depth.
  • The overly ornate elements of skeuomorphic design can distract from the main point of your page or website.
  • These designs tend to take longer to create and become dated more quickly.
  • Overly ornate elements do not easily lend themselves to responsive design.

What is “Flat” design?

If skeuomorphism is “more is more”, flat design preaches “less is more”. Simplicity rules and content is king. Flat design elements are typically two dimensional, clean, and make use of bold colors.



The elements above are minimalistic and use bold colors without gradients.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros Cons
  • Usability: A clean interface with simple elements is easy to use. Websites using this type of design will also load faster.
  • Flexibility: Flat designs are typically very scalable, meaning they easily adapt to multiple devices.
  • Flat design can be considered by some as boring or dull.
  • It is more difficult to customize the appearance of your site and position yourself differently. Eventually, many sites will begin to look the same.

What’s your preference?

When it comes to attracting the right job seeker or landing that new client, which design style would you choose? There is no right or wrong answer, and there are no strict rules demanding to follow one style or another. While flat design is currently preferred by many, your company’s branding and the audience you are trying to reach will be two major factors in deciding on which direction to take. When flat design does suit your project though, the minimalism, bold colors and sleek typography can create a highly usable and enjoyable experience.

Want to see how Haley Marketing can help incorporate flat design trends into your new website? Contact Us!

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