Things in the design world seem to be getting flatter! I can produce infinite examples; iOS7, Windows 8 (and everything else in Windows 8), Pepsi, the Dropbox logo, even things outside the computer world; everything is flatter now.

When Windows XP was released, the trend was to give a curve to everything, and it looked better! Now, getting rid of those curves looks better!

Who governs this and why do flatter icons and logos look better now?

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EDIT: And a newer trend of making things round is catching up:

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  • 5
    Have a look here: flatvsrealism.com
    – kmdhrm
    Jan 13, 2014 at 13:25
  • @DipakYadav that wasn't very useful, though entertaining. Jan 13, 2014 at 18:57
  • 7
    It's called "Fashion". Same reason we don't all have big hair and shoulder pads... Jan 13, 2014 at 19:20
  • 1
    You might also ask why everything became shiny and 3D in the 90s and 00s. The short answer: because technology supported it. Jan 13, 2014 at 20:17
  • 1
    @BlueFlame true but we realized that just because we can doesn't mean we should (I also don't think we necessarily shouldn't). Jan 14, 2014 at 14:13

4 Answers 4


It's a trend and, like any trend, governed by nobody. In every generation you have people who want to move away from the established, who want to renovate and innovate. Old trends come back or new trends are being formed.

Flat design was a logical reaction on skeuomorphism. It's the exact opposite. In every trend somebody is the first, but that's not the person that governs it. Windows 8 made flat design popular, but they did not set the trend nor do they govern it. Flat design can easily be made obsolete if a large enough group of people would say flat design is outdated and start using skeuomorphism again or create an other trend. The same goes for money. If a large enough group of people says I don't put trust anymore in coins and bills, but from now on I trust seashells, in no time we would all be trading in seashells.

There have been a lot of talk about flat design and it's merits over skeuomorphism.

So why do icons and logos look better flat? They don't necessarily. Some people really think it is better looking. Others just think they think it's better looking because it's the trend. But like any trend, several months, a year or several years from now something else will be 'better-looking'.

  • 1
    Just to add: an argument against "flat design" is that clickable areas are harder to understand. - It lacks affordance.
    – Velkommen
    Jan 13, 2014 at 12:53
  • 3
    I think flat removes superfluous data, like shinies and reflections, which makes the image easier to grasp and understand.
    – Rob
    Jan 13, 2014 at 13:36
  • 1
    You're right. But this was true since forever, nothing has changed except the trend...
    – kBisla
    Jan 13, 2014 at 14:08
  • Not quite. The devices people use have been changing pretty quickly. Smartphones are becoming much more popular than they were in 2001, when Apple released the trend setter for shiny design in computing.
    – nomen
    Jan 13, 2014 at 16:12
  • Is there a factor from larger numbers of touch screen devices? Something that looks 3D but is flat to touch may give inconsistent experience. Research into flat-screen haptics, if it results in actual devices, may help reverse the trend because we could "feel" the edges of buttons again Jan 13, 2014 at 17:58

@Paul's answer is correct, it's just a trend and governed by nobody other than the unwashed masses.

But I'd like to add that it's not in the interest of the greater good (of the UX minded). Lot's of junk was removed, but some good information was removed in making things too flat. A subtle bevel or shadow can impart useful information, and a good designer should understand this and not be too much a slave to trendiness.

  • 1
    <3 I totally support this 1000%. Trends are reactions to past mistakes, but good design takes all things into consideration. Jan 13, 2014 at 20:39

If you look at older design you'll notice that button and practically everything in computer world mimicking something in real world, let's say most button follow button that you'll find in TV, because you know digital thing were new at the time hence people often use/follow thing that exist around them. Where now it doesnt make sense anymore why follow real world when its not real world. and thats why a lot of design moving away from it.

  • Good on you for helping explain a 5 syllable word that sounds kind of like spaghetti monster. Jan 13, 2014 at 19:04
  • 1
    @VoronoiPotato how about help me edit my answer rather than mocking it. I admit I don't have perfect English but at least it's still understandable.
    – kirie
    Jan 14, 2014 at 1:14
  • 2
    Oh no I wasn't mocking it! I upvoted. I think it's a word that people use a ton without explaining what's behind it, but I can see how you might think I was mocking, sorry! Jan 14, 2014 at 13:23

Rounded corners are problem for battery consumption, design, and software. It is a time consuming thing. So, Windows introduced the classic design back. Because flat design goes good with the classic Windows now the flat design is the most used one.

  • 3
    This isn't all that true today. The amount of processing power needed to render a square corner vs. rounded corner is negligible--if measurable at all.
    – DA01
    Jan 14, 2014 at 0:06
  • 1
    -1 The flat design started with the Adobe-Macromedia merger and CS3.
    – kinokijuf
    May 6, 2014 at 9:43
  • @kinokijuf, what year?
    – ilhan
    May 6, 2014 at 10:23
  • @ilhan 2007. Is this that hard to look up?
    – kinokijuf
    May 6, 2014 at 10:57
  • @ilhan I hope this is a troll (I am all too well aware of Clark's Law)... May 7, 2014 at 14:49

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