Web Design Choices: Flat UI Or Skeuomorph?

Long-time business owners and start-up entrepreneurs who want to create an online presence approach web designers for help. A good wed design company will charge you at least $400 for their starter package web design which may include a homepage, 3 – 5 inner pages, good overall aesthetics and feel, minimal web content and ease of navigation for web users. The rate goes up depending on your preferences for your website. In the beginning the user interface wars started out with which website has got the best 3D/glossy theme to it, but since Microsoft introduced their Flat UI theme for Windows 8 and 10, the competition shifted to skeuomorphism vs. flat design.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence is Apple’s iOS 7 which leans towards skeuomorphism.

What is Flat UI?
Flat design is a type of interface design focused on the minimal use of simple elements, typography and colors. Even though it does not have any stylistic elements like other UIs, it can still be made to look professional and trendy. More than two-thirds of web designers now agree that Fat UI is easier to use while maintaining high standards in web design and the designs are efficient and streamlined. Another advantage flat designs have over skeuomorphmistic designs is that it blends and adjusts better in different browsers and devices. A website’s loading time becomes faster with minimal design elements and it does not sacrifice pixel count as it looks sharp on any display.

Skeuomorph Definition
When you copy a physical attribute or design of an object and make an imitation of it in another form and the original function or purpose of the attribute or design is lost or no longer necessary; then you have made a skeuomorph. For example the pre-recorded shutter noises on smartphones which imitates the original film cameras and makes you think that your smartphone camera has an actual shutter when it does not; that’s skeuomorphism. Or when you look at a Flat UI or realistic calendar apps that has a torn paper and metal rings on it, that too is an example of skeuomorphism.

Pros
My first encounter with Windows 8 was somewhat unpleasant; however, it was not the design or the features that I’m complaining about, but rather the functionality. I was used to the functionality of the XP and Windows 7, so forgive if I’m old fashioned. Nevertheless, I admit that the Flat UI on it was elegant and felt good to look at.

Here are the pros for skeuomorphism and flat design:

Flat Design

  • Simple
  • Clean
  • Colorful
  • Trendy
  • Modern
  • Efficient and Responsive
  • Perceived as “Honest” by most People
  • Fast Load Times

Skeuomorphism

  • Helps users understand the purpose of apps faster.
  • Can make anything look polished, neat and shiny.
  • Considered as safe and familiar approach in web design by most designers.
  • New users easily gets hook simply because of the design appeal at first glance.

Cons
As good as they seem, some people still don’t find skeuomorphism or flat design as peaches and apples. Here’s what they protested about.

Flat Design

• Sometimes action objects become unclear to end users.
• There seems to be no more room for improvement due to the “flatness” of the design.
• Without color shape and proximity, it is difficult to see the relationship between objects.

Skeuomorphism

  • Sometimes too many illustrations can cause design delays in the approximated development time frame.
  • Load times gets longer and may cause users to give up on visiting the site due to boredom.
  • Skeuomorphism is image-focused rather than CSS coding.
  • Skeuomorphic apps are harder to update as styles and trends change rapidly.

What’s your Pick?
Based on worldwide sales, it seems that Flat UI is the preferred choice by the masses as according to Google, their Android operating system has sold to more than 1 billion devices at the end of 2013. Meanwhile, as of January 2013, Apples iOS sold only to over 500 million devices which is still a mega sale considering their large fan base in the United States. If you ask me, I would definitely pick the flat design over the skeuomorphic ones as I always think efficiency in everything I do. I suppose people who don’t like to waste time on load times will pick flat designs and the younger generation who are into images and color overtones and glossy feels will pick the skeuomorphic web design. To be honest, I think both are outstanding when it comes to the viewers perception and that we are merely separated by the choices we make.