The practicality and success rate of a flat design in websites cannot be stressed enough, but as always, there are arguments surrounding the concept. Some for, and some against. While the flat design trend may be becoming popular, there are still folks who believe that flat design is actually not very healthy in terms of success of a website, and that flashy stuff has more chances of being noticed and being attracted to. That may be true on some level, but when you are looking to stare at the screen for hours, you usually feel like going to your favorite website and heave a sigh of relief owing to the simplicity.
We are a total go for flat design and this article is going to talk about all the different reasons why we think so, and why we think you should believe the same. It is a simple concept. Flat design increases conversion rates. If you don’t believe us, feel free to read below and find out more about How Flat Design Increases Conversion Rates. Of course, you are entitled to your own opinion, but compared to all that flashy stuff, we believe that flat design really does have the edge. Read below and comment later and let us know what you think is the case. Enjoy.
Conversion Rate Increase by 261%
We are not naming names here, but believe us when we say that there was this one particular website that decided to lay rest to the entire argument surrounding the flat design and a more complex design. They compiled results by testing two different design versions of their websites, one being the minimal and the other being far more complex.
The process of making the design simple was a piece of cake. All they had to do was remove unnecessary product information and images that are irrelevant. They also removed instances discussing the practicality of their product, or otherwise referred to as the ‘social proof’. You would be pleased to know here that the simpler version of the website had a conversion rate of 261% as mentioned above, compared to the one with a more complex design.
There are two basic design approaches when you consider designing a website owing to the technical advancements of this era (read: smartphones). There is content-first approach, and there is the mobile-first approach. Both these approaches result in streamlined content and a crisp delivery of whatever it is the website is about. Of course, that also increases performance, which is what the developers are mostly concerned about.
When you go with a content-first approach, you forget about a wireframe and layouts, all you are thinking of being copywriting. When you do this, certain things always happen. You tend to picture the page in a hierarchical manner, which ensures organizations and order; discipline if you may. Of course, that eliminates the confusion you come across while deciding to choose from all sorts of different layouts that are available to you. Moreover, if you view the page hierarchy, your content will be concise, to the point, and absolutely refined. The user experience is enhanced by the mere fact that the website presents whatever the viewer is looking for without him having to work hard to find it. If I am searching for something specific and I happen to come across a website, I would rather it is present right there in my face instead of me stripping down the entire website.
Then there is the mobile-first approach. This is where you consider the surprisingly large amount of people who surf the internet through their internet. Now what you want to do is make sure the content is responsive and fits perfectly with whatever smart device they are using. While doing this, you automatically streamline and refine the content. You know the screen sizes are smaller compared to your average laptop and desktop, so you tend to stick to the highlights which are in-depth and deliver the message.
The common thing with both the approaches is that the elements and content is bigger, and simpler. It allows for easy navigation and search. It offers clarity and the overall brand communication is improved.
The idea behind minimal or flat design is the same; bigger and better content, with clear focus points.
If you are going with the flat design that means that the entire website is flat. You have to ensure consistency which in turn results in no flashy buttons with gradients and all that jazz. You need to keep it simple. Marketers all over argue that designers should make the buttons as attractive as possible so a person feels more tempted to press it and especially so when the button is about primary calls to action.
It may seem logical to argue with that, but practical results suggest differently. There is a particular instant, again, not naming names, where a website lets the entire page stay the same except the button which was changed from a drop-shadowed, gradient one to a normal, flat one.
This little experiment resulted in another win for the flat design. The increase in conversion rate with a mere change of a button to a flat design was 35.81%.
Bad Flat Design and Impact on Discoverability
While we are pro-flat design through and through, if not done right, it can have terrible consequences. For example, it can significantly reduce discoverability.
Take the Metro UI, introduced with Windows 8, for example. It is one of the most brilliant examples to prove the aforementioned point. There is no clear separation of different elements in their UI which confuses people. Generally, you would have a clear indication as to which part is clickable and which is not, but there is no such thing with Metro UI.
That is one of the reasons it was not well received originally, but people have warmed up to it now. You are almost always confused as to where you can click.
With the Metro UI, however, it is a flat design, people have struggled while trying to figure out where to click. That is because it is a flat design, but badly done.
Flat design primarily focuses on less complications and in turn offers a focus on clarity of the content and legibility. That of course creates and utterly exceptional reading experience. It is simple really, if you don’t have other elements, such as useless images, to distract you, you will only be left with the written content to focus on. One of the advantages of having high readability is the fact that it leads to task completion faster, and more than if it were classified as low readability content.
The concept can even be boiled down to typography. While the fonts on the computer and websites generally, are relatively simple, the typography is still matters a lot. In a study conducted at MIT, people were given two different sets of problems. Each of these problems was provided in a complex topography and with a simpler typography. It was found that candidates handed the tasks with simpler typography not only finished the task, but they finished it quickly.
Much to our appreciation, readability and clarity are at the core of a flat design.
Flat Design is not Simple to Make
Flat design is all about the focus on simplicity. So, logically, it is safe to assume that creating a flat design is a simple job. Well, that is one of the biggest misconceptions around. Flat design is still a new trend, which means that it is under constant development. Unfortunately, that also means that it is not that simple to create as one would think especially intrinsically. What’s to understand here is that you rid your design of everything that is complex. Get rid of all the images that you do not really need, focus on the selling point, focus on the content, and focus on getting the point across in a concise yet understandable manner. As is the case when you write your dissertation, you never use the big words and make everything complex for the layman, you try to make things easier, so that even people who have absolutely no idea about the subject know exactly what you are talking about.
As you saw before, bad flat design is very much possible, even with the best of designers, and the consequences are dire, you need to be very careful, and if considering designing your website that way, make sure you do a lot of testing before you release it. Always remember, when testing anything, prefer people who have absolutely no idea what your project is about.
You may have heard people say that a flat design is a trend. Even we may have said that. But that fact is that it is not a trend since they come and go. Flat design is here to stay, but only as long as it is accompanied by the two approaches mentioned before in this post.
You may want to consider everything when trying to establish an e-commerce website or a digital store. Remember, if your viewers can complete tasks (which is what you want of them on your website), conversion rate increases, and that incidentally increases your revenue as well.