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9 Principles of Flat Design

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Flat design is a minimalist style of user interface that has emerged as a dominant design approach for information oriented user web sites and mobile apps. It takes influence from minimalist traditions such as Bauhaus. Flat design keeps a design simple and clean in order to impress customers with content and functionality over decorations. It tends to be easy to develop and lends itself well to dynamic content, platforms and resizing for multiple devices. The following are general principles or characteristics of flat design.

Standard Elements

Use of standard native elements such as the buttons of html. Avoids attempts to override the look and feel of such elements.

Practical Color

Solid colors that are selected for practical reasons such as contrast for visibility. Typically gradients and ornate textures are avoided.

Sans-serif Typography

San-serif fonts are selected for their readability on a range of screens.

Grid Layouts

Grid layouts that lend themselves well to resizing. Also simplifies the generation of interfaces from a platform.


Flat designs tend to rely on symmetry for balance. Although asymmetrical elements may appear in a grid there is rarely much attempt to use sophisticated asymmetrical balance techniques.

Native Dimensions

Tends to avoid 3D looking icons and effects on a 2D screen.

Mechanical over Organic

Flat designs rely on geometrical shapes with no attempt to make designs soft, curvy or organic.

Decorations are Functional

Flat designs are decorative in the sense that they often make heavy use of icons over text. They also commonly use photographs. Flat design avoids illustrations that have no function such as a decorative background.


Skeuomorphs are avoided. Seams and shadows may be used to provide cues to users about what is touchable. These could be considered skeuomorphs except that they are used for a functional purpose.


Flat design is more of a philosophy and style than a strict set of rules. As a philosophy, it embraces form follows function and doesn't decorate without a reason. As the name suggests, it makes no attempt to look multidimensional and produces interfaces that look much like a flat poster.
Overview: Flat Design
Design Style
A modern minimalist style for information oriented user interfaces that embraces form follows function, simple native elements and practical design choices for a wide range of devices.
Inexpensive designs that look good across a range of devices.
Easy to generate dynamically.
Focuses on content and function over superfluous decoration.
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