Another post on flat design

Everyone who designs - or who’s interested in interfaces in general - will know the battle that is going on between the skeuomorphism and the so called flat design.

As I was initially intrigued by the flat approach, for it seemed to be the right way to design something ‘native to the screen’ , I decided to design an app for iOS in that way, that I’ve only seen on Windows Phone, at that time.

As the trend was going on and I had the opportunity to try other apps, as well as the newly developed Windows 8, my vision changed.

I’m not saying that the flat interfaces aren’t beautiful or functional but I had the feeling that something wasn’t right, I’ll try to make an example:

Microsoft Windows 8 compared to Apple iOS keyboard UI

If I look at these two keyboard sets, for instance, I still prefer the Apple iOS one. In my opinion - even if there are contexts in which the flat style could fit better - in this case it just feels poor.

I’ll try to be more precise: as we consider this flat UI we could question the color of the keys, the font and so on, in other words it feels like a ‘style’ not a ‘design’,while in the iPad we don’t even notice the design at all, we can almost say that it just seems to exist by itself. That’s always been the greatness of product design: the fact that you don’t notice it.

Just think about Mac OSX, the finder toolbar, the icons, and now think about Windows 8 on a PC: do we really think that a flat interface will work in the same or better way? I’m not sure.

Returning to flat vs skeuomorphic battle, I don’t believe one will ever win on the other. I just think that as the world of interfaces and apps will become bigger and more complex we will have a diversity of styles to fit better the need of the contents. If I have to design a magazine for a tablet it will be flat, games could be more fictional, but as to the general operating system UI, I honestly think that a little, subtle, skeuomorphism is still better than a totally flat design, and that’s what I expect iOS7 to be like: non glossy, less rounded, but non flat.