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The new approach is often called ‘flat colour design’ (FCD). It isn’t the solution for every site but can deliver significant benefits in the right situation.
FCD has gained popularity because of the simplicity and flexibility it offers. The name is derived from the two-dimensional shapes used in the style that are simply flat. When a site is trying to achieve an optimised responsiveness to the user, the use of flat colour design is often the way forward.
As website design became more sophisticated, we saw the rise of skeuomorphic design where the design of web elements mimics real 3D objects. So your home page might look like an old radio, a car dashboard or a chest of drawers. Elements can have visual depth and animation.
FCD is the counterpoint to skeuomorphism. The basis of FCD is crisp simplicity and subtlety, utilising light shadows and edge effects suggesting interactivity. The aim of the design is on neutrality coupled with keeping the focus firmly on the content. With smaller screens of mobile devices, the fewer buttons and a less detailed design make a flat interface easy to use.
Simple shape elements like circles, squares, hexagons are employed with space for making them easy to tap. Simple styling is coupled with vibrant and bold colour choices particularly for buttons. Retro colours are particularly popular.
Typography choices are critical for setting the tone for a website in the simple settings of flat design eschewing embellishments.
Simple elements doesn’t mean simple design, FCD requires just as much design application as any other type of design scheme.
It may not be appropriate for every web environment but where the intention is to create a highly responsive and very straightforward web platform, FCD can be the best design route. It’s adaptive and focuses on content. Combine it with responsive design and a good user interface and you’ve got a slick modern website.