Read a bunch lately about Apple joining the ever-growing group of major sites to move towards a flat design and it concerns me. The problem starts with those that confuse design and user experience and justify that a flat design cleans up the user interface. As if the number of pixels used in an interface somehow determines how clear it is to the user.
It also makes me wonder why this movement came about in the first place. Perhaps it’s the daily pounding that most designers or UX product chaps have to take with the ever-encouraging ‘just make it simple’ directives from those up high. But we’ve also heard ‘just make it pop’ an equally disturbing number of times.
The latter holds the key to my argument here. First, the clean lines that helped propel Apple’s hardware into consumer hearts doesn’t hold the same merit for interfaces. Industrial hardware design should create a canvas that allows the interface to shine. There is nothing wrong with using an illustrated bookshelf to convey a library or giving a button depth so the user knows that it’s clickable.
I think a big part of Apple’s early success with the iPhone compared to a similarly equipped Android model is in part due to their devotion to clean skeuomorphism (design resembling real objects). It’s harder and takes more time and effort but it’s worth it. The early Android powered phone interface made me feel like the machine was soulless whereas iPhone stood for fun and easy. Does Apple really want to throw that all away?