Thoughts on flat design and web design trends

The web has a growing pace evolving, new technologies, new web standards, new browsers, new devices, each having a different screen resolution and pixel density are being brought to the game every day.

Being a web developer you may take conscious decisions if any of the veterans are your concern. Though, this can get pretty overwhelming most times. That is why the new trends in web design are understandable.

Before talking about where we are let’s take a look in the past to better understand why web design techniques and practices evolved. Looking back to the time when we created table based layouts is a great resource of information.

That’s the time when I discovered Photoshop and was eager for my graphic skills to gain attention but pretty soon, having some basic programming knowledge, I entered the immersive world of web development. And yes, at first, I used Photoshop to generate my table-based layouts.

Some would say that the tables era was a very harsh time for web developers with a lot of constraints but I dare to disagree. It’s true that we had to stay away from taking risks in design and that most of the websites looked similar. But it was because of the low level patterns we accepted at the time. And there were actually no constraints. The web, even at it’s young age was giving us a lot of freedom.

I say that because that’s where I started and it did not look at all constraining. I think every step the web took was exactly the same… A lot of fresh air for tired developers who started to understand restrains the web had. Fortunately browser developers took the time to understand the drawbacks and helped web design grow beautifully.

Eventually every breath of fresh air we took turned out to make us a bit overexcited. Everything we couldn’t do with tables we did more with divs. We loved stylesheets and web 2.0 was inevitable. It is funny to look back. But we couldn’t know. We just embraced every opportunity we had.

Web standards have always been a perpetual beta

So here we are in the age of flat design. Why? We were tired of the web 2.0 and the CSS3 topping. We just had to calm down and focus on other thing to enhance the delivery of the content to our users.

The web started to take the best parts out of typography. Not to copy it. It is almost at the edge of overtaking print. But web developers have to understand why it is important to learn from print design.

Grids, scales, headings, proximity, calls to action, even responsive design have been in the print industry all this time. We just weren’t aware of it.

We have a lot of new toys to play with: web fonts, gestures, media queries and there were also technical issues that led us to minimalistic design. But it feels like just the right moment to take the time to play with new web technologies. Soon we will settle down and be ready for a new phase. I’m not saying this is childs’ play. But we just need to be more mature and turn the toys into tools.

For me, flat design is the breath of the fresh air taken at the top of mounting we have been climbing. We just have to rest a little and look to the horizon for the next mountain to interact with.