How the 3 Major Tech Companies Are Approaching Flat Design Differently

What is flat design? It is a trend that simplifies the user interface by eliminating the unnecessary elements and retaining the essentials. This creates a simpler and more minimalist design that helps users navigate in a less cluttered environment. In the past few years, flat design has influenced designers’ choice in typography, and how logos, website templates, and infographics are created. More brand logos are using the type Helvetica and other sans serif fonts. Frivolous embellishments, embossing, and drop shadows are being eliminated to make final designs look more clean.

Here are the ways Microsoft, Google, and Apple implemented flat design.

Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8

The switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8 was a very bold move that made Microsoft face a lot of backlash. There were no more drop down menus or “icon studded toolbars“. The Start screen is now powered by Live Tiles (animated, rectangular widgets) that are sorted into a navigation grid.

Elements of flat design: Simplification of icons, clean typography, and solid colors.

Google’s Card-based Design

Google is now emphasizing a minimalist card-type interface that is prevalent in most of its products and services. Card-type design is just like what it sounds: text and photos are organized into white rectangles that resemble index and business cards in the late 90’s. This wasn’t exactly a new way to organize information.

“We’ve actually tapped into one of the oldest pieces of graphic and information design around – business cards, calling cards, greeting cards, playing cards” said Matias Duarte, UX director for Android. “They all have the same embodiments because they’re all reflections of a similar set of design problems.”

Once Google applied the restraints of a card to the design of an interface, that allowed them to make the layout very clean and the textual information more organized.

Elements of flat design: Clean layout, rectangular organization, and consistent font styles.

Apple’s Ridding of  Skeuomorphic Design

Skeuomorphic design is when something is designed to resemble the actual object, and Apple used it a lot with apps such as its game center, voice recorder, and calculator apps. With its new iOS8 upgrade, the images are all flattened and the icons have become simpler. Apple intention of using skeuomorphic design and its parallax effect (the fake zooming in and out) might have been to create a sense of depth and realism, but Apple is now moving in a better direction with flat design in mind. They have implemented a better method to create depth and motion, and that is why using a blurred translucency and a “breathable” layout.

Elements of flat design: Simplification of icons, translucency, and thinner modern-looking typeface


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