Flat Design Vs. Skeuomorphism: Design Decisions

The Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 featured a lot of new conversation as the iOS 7 interface went from a 3D style design to a 2D design. Both of these designs are used today and there are advantages and disadvantages of each design type. The one you use will all depend upon the organizational goal you have. Before you begin mobile app development you have to consider which of these concept is the right one the goals of your business and which will reflect the image you want to convey.

Using Skeuomorphism
Realism design is also called Skeuomorphism. This imitates real shadows, objects, shades, shapes, and details from our physical world. If an illustration or drawing or an appears like a life-like photograph, this is Skeuomorphism. This type of design can convey a certain them in your app, but is often looked at as cluttered and functionality can be lost at times. The Green Screen from the Game Center App is often associated with this design concept which didn’t have a lot of functionality. Skeuomorphism can be done the right way and it’s intuitive, but designs are rapidly evolving and large brands like Apple are adopting more modern designs that look to functionality more than form.

Realism design or Skeuomorphism became outdated and cluttered. Mobile app devices use is rising and apps that are fast loading and responsive adds to usability. Loading times needed to be increased so that users had the ability to navigate through the app in an efficient manner. Functionality was a goal because it provided a better user experience. On the other side of the design spectrum, flat design was born.

Flat Design
When you strip out 3D element and have a minimalistic design, this is flat design. It looks like the image is lying on a flat surface. There’s not as many choices in regards to style such as textures, 3D, or gradients, with flat design. You get solid colors and strokes and not many details. There’s very few shades and gradients. Flat design is a good choice for usability and app navigation. Organizations that have less content can use it as well.

There’s also a misunderstanding with flat design as people feel it needs less detail or takes less time to create. It doesn’t matter if the design is flat or skeuomorphic, a good design is going to take a lot of effort and time to create. A good logo or an icon still takes time to get right. They may look quite simple, but the curves, edges, angles, and dimensions of logos take a lot of time to get the image to look the right way.

Why is Skeuomorphism Used?
When we get signals from our eyes, the brain interprets this and we are able to see shapes. The shadows, shades, and the details can make the difference from seeing a ball and circle, or a carton box and cube. The brain can identify levels, depths, features, and textures. From the user perspective, Skeuomorphism is a more intuitive design as the objects are closer to reality. As you work with this type of design the brain tends to recognize the shapes with fewer details and shadows. Once you reach this point, it’s easier for the designer to use Skeuomorphism as the brain sees it as being stylish.

Why is Flat Design Used?
Flat design has a focus on the raw functionality and opposes artificial design so there’s a very simple design. The flat design concept can be done through the iOS interface and the Microsoft operating system interface. Since there’s a focus on the functionality, the experience for the user is more efficient and practical. The user is able to focus on the purpose of the application whether it’s a gaming app, retail and so on.

Guideline or Not?
You don’t want to have limitations on design since it’s artistic creation and it reflects upon the brand. You need design guidelines must be based upon the goal of your project, the audience, the platform, the brand itself, and the market requirements.

When you look to mobile device design style, you have a lot to think about. You may be designing for the small screen so you’ll want a minimalistic style. You may want the app to be designed for the user so you need to prioritize the functionality of the app. If you want more flash and animations for example, then you might choose the skeuomorphism style. For some design you might want to combine the two styles, but still keep your app very user-friendly.

You need to pick a design style which will meet the goals of your organization. You want to communicate your content in a way that’s effective. You have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the design styles as this will help the design team build an app which will reflect the image of your brand. It doesn’t matter which design style you pick; you want user-centric navigation so the user-experience is optimized.

Author: philipov

My name is Philip Philipov, a digital consultant specialised in web and mobile app development based in Sofia, Bulgaria. My mission and passion in life is to create award-winning software solutions for businesses together with my team of talented programmers and designers at Whiz. Do not hesitate, leave a comment below or contact me right now!

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