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Designers Fiesta - Part 2

Following Nicola Purdie’s first review of the Designers Fiesta 2015, here’s her second and final part which interestingly compares two very different design styles.

Following the success of his talk about branding, Simon King continued his seminar throughout the day including ‘Your friendly neighbourhood guide to flat design’. It was a great session that provided us designers with some handy tips and tricks: updating existing visuals into something more current and on trend.

As a web designer you’re constantly designing with UX and mobile at the back of your mind, the evolution of visuals has enabled us to communicate information in an attractive and useful way. It’s interesting to see how styling has evolved if we were to compare some of the first graphics Apple created to how they now look on the iPhone 6s.

Skuemorphic design

Skeumorphism is a style of graphic which resembles ‘real life’ objects, a style that was adopted by Steve Jobs at Apple and used in apps to provide recognisable elements to improve the overall usability.

The kind of effects a designer would have added to create this styling would include shines, reflections, drop shadows, textures and materials. However, mention a drop shadow or a reflection to a designer now in 2015 and you’ll get a very scared look.

Flat Design – form and function

Simplicity is golden. As end users, we’re bombarded with more and more information. As designers, it’s our responsibility to communicate this in a simple and legible way. If you compare the resulting flat design with skeumorph-style design, you can see how much more pared back flat design is. Its minimalistic style enables the viewer to take in the information more readily.

So here are just a few handy tips for designers when producing effective flat design:

  • Sans serif fonts
  • Similar tones or a bright colour palette
  • Long flat shadows
  • Isometric design provides a better 3D effect
  • Shapes and gradients

Flat design isn’t necessarily restricted to web design either, it’s interesting to think how it’s evolving and used in different media such as branding and logo design. As flat graphics and logos come to life with animation and new technology, designers need to consider the design beyond a phone or a screen. Animated logos such as Google’s new G icon and the use of 3D printing means that creating graphics are even more involved than ever before. We need to consider how they work on different devices, media and materials. A good example of this can be seen in the new Rio Olympics logo 2016.

I came away from the event really feeling that I had learnt something - any designers out there who haven’t been before, I recommend it and will be the first in the queue for next year’s tickets.



Nicola Purdie, Designer



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