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Designery nerdy things.

The flat color user interface trend + apps with gestures

by admin on April 10, 2012, one comment

I'm getting really tired of the super skeuomorphism that many of the Apple apps have, and its starting to look really dated. Surprisingly, Windows Phone and the new Android ICS Holo UI are more modern looking their with flat UI. I'm fascinated by the the trend of apps that have a very flat and colorful UI. I'm kinda digging it. This flat UI is a perfect solution for retina screens and increased app sizes. The developers can draw the flat UI in code, keeping the size of apps down, as well as, making it easier to upscale the app for those higher res screens. It's also less iPhone-y, which will make the leap to an Android or Window Phone a less painful redesign. I also find it interesting that most of these apps with the flat, colorful UIs are very gesture heavy. (Paper is also gesture heavy but not flat. There's an acceptable small amount skeuomorphism with a greater superhuman interface) Gestures feel very modern, Apple has been good at pushing this trend. Gestures started out as an "easter egg" of sorts, allowing a user an alternate way to do the same action as a button. Instagram allows users to either double tap on the photo to "like" it or press the like button. Path allows users to swipe the left or right to expose the menu options, or press the buttons in the top left and right corner of the tab bar. Since the release of Lion, gestures have become more common and encouraged. Users have gotten use to using simple gestures on their iPhone and iPad, so it was a natural progression to move them to the computer as well. Sometimes they mimic how we interact with real world items. The swipe to remove is like crossing something off a list. This increased knowledge & familiarity has allowed apps to use more gestures. The absence of buttons encourages users to explore the navigation with gestures. Some apps have made the mistake of overwhelming the user with too many directions. It's better to teach the user more complicated gestures with simple animations to indicate how to use them or that there is something more to explore. Clear was the first that I noticed with flat UI and completely void of buttons. Although it had mixed reviews, I was extremely excited to see an app that took such a leap for something so dramatically different. Scorekeeper has been out longer, but Clear had more advanced gestures. Rechner Calculator and Bit Timer are some others that have followed. Why I find this fascinating: In the beginning, the main problem with the touch interfaces was the flatness of the device itself. So to make users more comfortable, the interfaces started out mimicking those real world things (skeuomorphism). I think we're finally past this, we are comfortable with these devices, maybe too comfortable. We can't live without them. Now we must progress, get away from skeuomorphism and start doing something really new and cool. Great design was a differentiator for how apps got noticed, but now the bar has gotten way higher. We must push it and start exploring things that have never existed before. [see part II]

One thought on “The flat color user interface trend + apps with gestures

  1. Cool thoughts. I often wonder if a gap is forming. Skeuomorphic design is done for adoption reasons for non digital people. Gestures and flat design very much appeals to power users that like short cuts and getting the most out of an app. So as things continue in both directions, the audience in the middle is not addressed.

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