Flat Design vs Skeuomorphism (Realism)

There’s a bit of a debate taking place in the web-design world. Designers are having to choose between two options: flat and simple or realistic and 3D looking.

Both designs are aesthetically, pretty damn beautiful. And that’s part of the problem. How are you meant to choose between two very good-looking designs?

One way is to understand the difference between the two and deciding from that, which one aligns with your brand identity.

So what is Flat Design?

Flat Design is a minimalist design that emphasises usability. Flat design strips out gradients, shadows, bevels and reflections. A great example of flat design is Windows 8 – Microsoft was one of the first to apply flat design to its interface.

What is Skeuomorphism (Realism)?

Skeuomorphism is a graphical user interface that emulates objects in the physical world. Making objects 3D, using gradients, shadows, bevels, reflections and backgrounds.

Flat Design PROS

  • Simple, Clean, Colourful, Modern, Trendy, Open Space, Ease of Use
  • There’s little or no need for illustration
  • Stylesheets and loading times tend to be shorter
  • Content is presented in a very straightforward fashion
  • Efficient responsive design, Simple Mobile interface

Flat Design CONS

  • Interactive areas such as hover states/links can appear less obvious to users, as the minimal colour palette can be too subtle at times.
  • Relationships between objects can only be achieved through colour and shape
  • Can flat designs look too simple?
  • Is this just a trend? How long will this trend last? Is it here to stay?

Skeuomorphism (Realism) PROS

  • Helps users understand the purpose of an app almost immediately
  • Skeumporhism can put a coat of polish on nearly anything
  • Safe and familiar approach for designers and viewers
  • New users may be attracted to the design simply because of the way it looks
  • Users can clearly identify what areas are interactive

Skeuomorphism (Realism) CONS

  • Illustrations can cause delays in design, and in development time
  • Larger files take longer to download and render in a browser
  • Skeuomporhism tends to rely on images rather than pure CSS
  • May seem dated as styles and trends change

I guess we can't say for certain if Flat Design is here to stay, or if it is a passing trend that will be forgotten by the next great thing to come.


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