The Evolution of Flat Design

Originally a major market disruptor, flat design has been a staple among top brands redesigning logos and looking to redefine their brand identities with the use of the trend-setting design implementation.

Personified by 2D illustrations, clean, smooth, crisp edges and bright even monochromatic color schemes – flat design has traditionally been marked by a simplified, digital aesthetic, free of gradients and shadows, choosing to oppose artificial realism and intricacies in favor of simple iconography.

In a phase where usability and efficiency has dominated the digital sphere, flat design helped designers and site owners by affording the design a much faster load time as extra elements are not present and elements are streamlined, allowing the faster site to resize and form around the navigation (content, rows and columns) it displays.

As the maximalist trend has gained ground over simplicity and minimalism, flat design has been forced to evolve – morphing into a version of itself that has gained depth and layers. Often referred to as ‘semi-flat’, ‘Flat 2.0’ or ‘almost-flat’ design, the emerging version features transition animations, lighting and shadows – borrowing cues from material design.


What’s clear is that flat design is in fact here to stay. A trend that grows and changes but remains fundamentally similar to its inception, is a tried and tested method for good design.

Even though flat design is minimal, with the developments of its 2.0 counterpart, maximalists and realists can now utilize the implementation, leveraging its user experience and usability benefits. In many ways, flat design is one of the most reliable UI tools to direct a user, creating a more streamlined environment.

True to its history as a trendsetting design set, flat design will continue to evolve, becoming more sophisticated as new additions, interactions and animations help it adapt to maximalist sites with more content and imagery.

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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