Since the global pandemic, Mobile UI also known as mobile User Interface has greatly evolved, as has how users interact with companies’ digital tools and platforms.
Flat Design and Material Design are two concepts launched by Google in 2014 that are becoming ever-present references in digital graphic design.
So, which one corresponds to you best: flat design and material design? Which one suits your brand DNA better? Let’s take a closer look at the two different types of design.
Flat Design: What is it?
Flat design is a minimalist graphic design style used on websites and for mobiles. It is mainly based on colors, typography, and icons and that favors efficiency, especially when it comes to the use of white space.
It was brought to the forefront with iOS 7 and Windows 8, radically revolutionizing the design of applications.
Flat design offers various advantages, including:
- It is minimalist and simple, making interfaces easy to use, more efficient, and overall, the design is more intuitive for users.
- It reduces the weight of interface files, making the navigation and the loading time faster.
- It prevents problems associated with screen size changes and also renders seamless images on high-definition screens.
- It provides better readability and ergonomics, as it eliminates unnecessary visual elements that can distract users.
- It adapts to all media formats and is ideally suited to responsive design.
- The minimalist aspect of this graphic style sometimes makes it difficult to stand out and convey a strong brand image. For example, it can feel generic and monotonous.
- The user may have difficulty understanding the content and structure of a site if the design is too simple.
The Types of Typography and Logos used for Flat Design
Flat design is based on the use of simple and minimalist elements to create interfaces, including the following design principles:
- Simple shapes, without shadows, textures, or gradients.
- The colors are flat, that is to say, the colors that are solid and uniform. They stand out from the rest of the site, making it easier for the brain to find its way around by using chromatic palettes to clearly distinguish the elements and guide the navigation.
- Fonts are chosen for their legibility (e.g. With serifs).
Rules to Follow for Successful Flat Design Colors:
Colors are an essential element in flat design because they are the foundation and they will also dictate the graphic hierarchy. Flat design offers great freedom in terms of colors, but it is necessary to choose them in a uniform palette.
To ensure that you select the ideal color palette for your brand, it is recommended to avoid mixing bright and pastel colors. What is more, the latter shades are often preferred in flat design. The colors should energize the navigation, without causing a visual overload.
- Images and illustrations: If the choice of a website tends towards a flat design, the insertion of the image should be well studied so as not to overload the general design of the interface. You can also play with different geometric shapes: circles, squares, triangles, etc.
- Typography: The font should help structure the information and organize the content. Flat design favors the simplicity and legibility of fonts.
- Icons: A flat design website would not be flat without the use of icons. We recommend that you limit the use of shapes in favor of “flat” icons. You can use many icon kits such as Designmodo and Thenounproject that meet most needs. Some are developed in Syg format and the colors and shapes can be modified in Illustrator.
Which Brands are Best Suited for Flat Design?
Before moving on to the graphic design of your website or mobile application, it is essential to think about the overall use of your platform to make sure that flat design is in line with your needs.
To do this, first, do some UX research and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your brand DNA? Would it match a flat design?
- What is the content of the website?
- How complex do you want your website to be?
- Will your website be visited from a mobile device or on a computer?
The objective is to select a design that will facilitate navigation. Flat design is primarily used to convey information and improve the user experience, so its use must be well thought out and relevant.
What is Material Design?
Material Design is a set of rules proposed by Google and intended mainly for mobile applications (mobile-first). This approach has become one of the biggest trends in interface design to date.
Material Design is similar to Flat Design. It is based on minimalism and colored geometric shapes but with added depth. The graphic designers take the “flats” elements and give them volume with a small shadow, that is very discreet.
Material Design is a new kind of responsive web design that is focused on the user experience. The key purpose of this is to have a design that is:
- Intuitive for all users
- Adapted to all formats of media (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.)
- Interactive thanks to dynamic animations
- Harmonious across all interfaces
The Benefits of Material Design:
- Like Flat Design, Material Design is minimalist and modern.
- It is more user-friendly and easier to use and adapts to all types of users, whether they are used to digital technology or not.
- The UX is comprehensive and user-friendly.
The Disadvantages of Material Design:
- The use of animations can lead to a longer loading time.
- The material design is the property of Google. It is therefore difficult to add a personal touch without the authorization of the rights holder.
- It is more demanding and more restrictive; Material Design requires more time and therefore more graphic work.
The characteristics of material design
- Building on the physical world: Material design is inspired by the physical world and its textures that reflect light and cast shadows. The material surfaces thus reproduce the mediums of paper and ink.
- Creating a memorable graphic design: This graphic style is ideal for Responsive Design. Impacting the choice of typography, grids, space, scale, color, and imagery, etc. to create a graphic hierarchy, that immerses users in a remarkable and memorable digital experience.
- Using motion to make sense: Material Design’s motion comes into play in moments of interaction when a button is pressed for example. Each time, it manifests itself to guide the user and make the interaction meaningful: the movement follows what the user does.
- Intuitive and responsive: The user’s actions form modulation points and trigger a reaction, a movement. The design literally transforms under the user’s fingers; it reorganizes itself, without disrupting the coherence, nor slowing down the interactions.
Material Design is qualified as Cross-platform, which means that it adapts to all platforms (Apple, Android, etc.).
So, when should one use Material Design?
Like any graphic trend, Material Design is codified. First of all, the choice of the color palette, as well as the typography, should not be underestimated: they must reflect efficiency but also simplicity. Let’s take the example of Google where two typographies are used: the Roboto and the Noto Sans. Google selected them because they are optimized for good readability on the web.
The second design principle is the layout of the space, a key element that helps to optimize the user experience. Thanks to Material Design, the website be responsive, regardless of the screen you use (smartphone, tablet, desktop, etc.). The added benefit of using Material Design is that you can use animations to reinforce the natural aspects of a user’s navigation.
At Eminence, we accompany you throughout your digital projects and identify your graphic needs according to your business objectives and target audiences.
The goal of our design experts is to bring out the DNA of your company by employing the appropriate graphic style to meet the expectations of your audience and help you stand out from the crowd.