Despite web design’s recent trends and changes, one style trend has remained fairly consistent over the course of the last couple of years. Flat design has evolved, bringing us the Flat 2.0. Many ask why designers are going with such a simple design in an era where technology grants the ability to go “fancy”. Both recent trends and research add up to one word: effectiveness!
Contrary to the web designs that previously dominated the World Wide Web like Parallax Scrolling and Gradient, Flat 2.0 focuses on getting a message across and navigating the user through the website in an effective manner. While these past successful websites featured numerous 3D displays, bubbly texts, and drop shadows, Flat 2.0 keeps it simple. So, if you’re wondering what exactly makes one design better than the other, it really depends on the goals and purposes of the website.
Goals and Objectives
Every website is created and designed with an initial purpose; a website should be goal-driven, with a big picture in mind. Every website is essentially an extension of a company’s brand, the same way a company’s social media presence is an extension of a brand. Now let’s look at a few examples of purposes a website can serve. Think of an entertainment or news website, a page full of stories meant to grab and capture the user’s interest. The more the user is on the site, the more content is consumed, therefore the more advertisements are seen. The purpose of a website like that is to entertain and well, distract the user, keeping them tuned in and engaged for as long as possible.
We can look at http://www.forbes.com/ as an example; a website with an array of different stories ranging from domestic and international business news, financial trends, viral stories, human interest pieces and more. Is that website’s motive to direct you to one particular page? No, its function is to expose the user to as much content as possible, fast enough for something to grab their attention and keep them tuned in.
Now from another perspective, let’s consider the purpose of an eCommerce site. A site that serves the role of an online store has its own purpose: to get users to buy whatever it’s selling. So when a user first finds themselves on the website (let’s assume the home page), that website wants to drive that user to find and engage in whatever they’re selling.
An example of this mindset could be our own site, at https://www.activewebgroup.com, where the goal should be understood from the get-go. Websites like this work more like an advertisement; it has an image to grab the user’s attention, graphics to direct them, information to tell them what’s important, and links to bring them where they want to go. Say you’re interested in our services and you visit our website, a short scroll down brings you to all of our services, with information about them. Its main function is for the user to get the information they need and have the ability to act on it if they choose to do so.
The Minimalist Approach
In an age where people are bombarded with information everywhere they go, it’s been made clear how effective it can be to engage web design with a minimalist approach. There are two ways to look at web design.
- First, think of a website like a store. Would you design a store to confuse your customers, making it more difficult to find what they need? We certainly hope not! An effective website is simple, like a store that’s setup in a way to allow you to find what you need, fast.
- Second, understand that the more a website is packing into its page, the more it will affect its performance and speed. Designers are starting to focus much more on the performance and efficiency of websites than they were in the past.
With a minimalist and a rather simplistic approach to a website, it’s only natural to compliment that with simple design (something that’s not too much for the user to handle). This not only enhances the efficiency of how the website is designed but how fast the website loads and performs. This makes a really strong one-two punch for a well-designed website.
Google is a perfect example; they are going with an Almost-Flat (Flat 2.0) Web Design, while using small animations (60 frames per second). This allows for a design that’s easy on the eyes, while avoiding a flat, 2D, and arguably “boring” design. Flat 2.0 also adds (but not excessively) 3D design elements like shadows, highlights, and layers, making the design look a little more realistic. This is where the design finds a compromise between Flat and a more complex Gradient design.
So where exactly does Flat and Flat 2.0 differ? The new Flat Design promotes more minimalism while having more depth into the design. This creates an effective balance of attraction and simplicity.
Google’s Santa Tracker website is an example of a successful Flat Design. Compare Google’s generic website with the Santa Tracker and you’ll see similarities and differences, that’s where the small differences show. The use of bold and vivid colors works very well with the design, making it easy for the user to find his/her way to what they’re looking for.
Remember how we were talking about an efficient supermarket? Well, this is where it all comes together. Having a simple design creates fewer distractions, making it easier for the user to concentrate on whatever they’re looking for. Then the design (in its simple form) makes it aesthetically appealing, allowing the designer to make the most important information stand out without compromising the minimalist-nature of the overall design.
Active Web Group is a full-service digital marketing agency that manages social media accounts. Our experts do everything from the research, strategic planning, content posting, and yes, we even analyze the data.