Web Design Trends for 2015 - The Evolution of Flat Design

2nd January 2015

So once again Father Christmas has come and gone. My waistline again lays victim to festive over indulgence and it's so cold outside I plan my outdoor ventures to last seconds rather than minutes. It's the year 2015(!) and although it may seem disappointing compared to the 2015 predicted in Back to the Future II we do still have some pretty cool technology to play with this year. So to get the ball rolling I've decided to outline some of the web design trends to look out for this year.

Over the past couple of years we've seen the popularisation of flat design. The web has swiftly moved away from the skeuomorphism and super-shiny web 2.0 feel of the noughties and now flat design has spread like two-dimensional wildfire through the e-forests that are the internet.

Flat design is not a new concept entirely. In the 1950s the Swiss popularised the style (known as Swiss Style or International Typographic Style). The flat digital revolution however was spearheaded by the likes of Microsoft with their Windows 7 software, followed shortly by Apple's iOS makeover. Fuelled by this drive for design simplicity the drop-shadow and gradient covered websites then fell like dominoes and soon the web became a much cleaner and less cluttered environment for all.

2015 doesn't look like it's going to steer us away from flat design. Instead it looks like it will be the year for the evolution of flat design. It looks like subtle gradients and shadows will start to work their way back into designs under the less-is-more guise. The biggest movement however seems to be driven by material design.

Material design is Google's new “design language” which they've created in an attempt to unify user experiences across all platforms. The basic idea is that their design is inspired by paper and ink, in an attempt to give the design a tactile feel. Material design also places a lot of emphasis on giving movement meaning, saying that all action should maintain the continuity of the user's experience.

This idea feels like a stark contrast to the direction of flat design, steering directly back towards skeuomorphism. I'm not really sure how I feel about material design as a whole - I think it has some strong points and some... lesser points.

I saw this article featuring a concept of what Google's search would look like with a material design overhaul and I can't help but love it...

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3039220/what-googlecom-would-look-like-with-a-material-design-revamp

A lot of the movement based stuff is really nice as well. The good folks at Angular have taken the opportunity to create a material design-centric library which you can check out here...

https://material.angularjs.org/

As you'll be able to see some of the effects are really subtle, yet very satisfying. However, if this is what the future of the web looks like then I'm not so sure I'm into it...

http://fezvrasta.github.io/bootstrap-material-design/

Don't get me wrong - I don't think there's anything visually wrong with this design - it just feels very plain and thoroughly underwhelming.

So anyway that's where I think we're headed in 2015 - an evolution of flat design spearheaded by Google's Material Design. In the next few weeks I'll outline a few more web trends for this year so stay posted.