Flat Design in Website Development

  • 6 min read


Website development is the process of building websites or web applications (apps). If we consider the process of building a website we can see that it consists of two things.

The first is programming, or writing the code of a website. The second is design, or creating the website’s layout and visual identity. In this article I’ll talk about flat design in website development.

After reading this article you’ll know:
  • What it is
  • How it’s used in website development
  • What are the best practices to follow
Design is very important in web development, and especially when building websites. Aside from creating visually appealing websites (let’s be honest here, nobody likes to look at ugly stuff), there are other aspects we shouldn’t ignore.

Good web design can improve search engine optimization (SEO) efforts by making people stay on your page longer. It can also improve the user experience (UX) elements of your website, making people more satisfied with interacting with your website.

What is flat design?

According to Interaction Design Foundation flat design is a user interface design style that uses simple, two-dimensional lelements and bright colors. It is often contrasted to the skeuomorphic style that gives the illusion of threee dimensions through copying real life properties.

I’ll offer a simpler definition:

Flat design is a minimalist design approach that emphasizes usability.

It features:
  • clean, open space,
  • crisp edges,
  • bright colors and
  • two-dimensional illustrations.
Flat design has a distinct look and feel without all the extras. It relies on a clear sense of hierarchy in the design and placement of elements to make successful projects easy for users to understand and interact with.

While more and more websites are using flat design principles, it is maybe even more popular for app and mobile design. With small screens, there are fewer buttons and options, making a flat interface fairly easy to use. Example below presents “Order” screen in mobile app with simple flat illustration.

Food finder app by Shojol Islam


What goes into flat design?

The good news is that flat designs are pretty easy to create.

The designer needs to focus on simple experiences and can then use:
  • Strong, contrasting colors to add emphasis on details within icons, illustrations, etc.
  • Sans serif typography in large and easy to read fonts that offer straightforward indications of what an icon or illustration is for
  • Crisp, clean UI elements that are easy to see and easy to comprehend
This should bring together a visually consistent and functional design for the UI.

Flat design principles

Here’s a list of major flat design principles:

No added effects

Flat design gets its name from the shapes used. It employs a distinct two-dimensional style that is simply flat.

The concept works without embellishment – drop shadows, bevels, embossing, gradients or other tools that add depth. Every element or box, from image frames to buttons to navigational tools, is crisp and lacks feathered edges or shadows.

Simple effects

Flat design uses many simple user interface elements, such as buttons and icons. Designers often stick to simple shapes, such as rectangles, circles or squares and allow each shape to stand alone. Shape edges can be perfectly angular and square or include curvature.

Focus on typography

Because of the simple nature of element in flat design, typography is extremely important. The tone of typefaces should match the overall simplistic design.

Focus on color

Color is an important element of flat design. While most color palettes focus on two or three colors at most, flat design palettes may use six to eight colors equally.

Example below present onboarding concept by designer Darko Vujic who uses falt design principles to create beautiful onboarding illustrations.



Minimalist approach

Flat design works well with a minimalist design approach. The focus should be on simple colors and photography.

Flat design on Swiss web

Like the rest of the web, flat design is omnipresent on the Swiss web.Let’s take a look at some websites that use flat design as their visual language for creating unique user experiences.

First example is RDT54 website. They specialize in the management and coordination of real estate projects. Visuals on the website are clean and modern. The website consists of flat icons and shapes. The colors are bold and bright and are used to accent and distinguish services they provide.



The second example is a campaign microsite which uses simple color effects on images and flat illustrations to tell a story. With plenty of whitespace and bold typography this microsite is effective in getting its point across to users.



The third example is a traveling website which helps you explore and book experiences in a single space.  The homepage consists of a simple layout. Every image is embelished with simple illustrations which makes this website more playful and more unique.


Swiss design is known worldwide for its simplicity and effectivness. It favors minimalism and uses heavy typographic grids and simple geometric shapes. All those features are used in flat design, therefore flat design is perfect for the Swiss web domains.

Flat design in 2019



This style of design started off as just another trend, but over the years it became the standard for web design. Reason for the rise of flat design is the need for fast-loading websites. Users expect enjoyable browsing experience on both mobile and desktop. This might change with the rise of material design.

Since 2014, user experience design has started moving towards more engaging level. Animations, 3D icons, light and shading features and gradients became one of the main design tools for user-centric approach.

From bland minimalism and crispness of flat design we moved to liveliness, increased interactivity and adaptability of design to various devices and customizations.

While design changes slowly creep up on us, some features will still be useful and present. Strife for minimalism and structure, and the use of bright colors will still be main principles of good web design.

Example below presents website that uses flat design with 3D effects and animations.



Flat design is a minimalist approach to design. It is intended to reduce complexity in the design and thus enhance the user experience.

Flat design has all the key attributes that make a site as functional as it is beautiful. It brings us a step closer to a new paradigm of digital design, where the functionality and aesthetic are in complete harmony.

If you need help with designing your website, please contact us today for a free consultation. 

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