Is flat design damaging usability?

As part of our season of podcast episodes on debates within the web design community, I want to look the impact flat design is having on usability.


I have a confession to make. I am obviously not fashionable. I know, its shocking isn’t it!

Obviously my fashion sense is perfect, so what can I possibly mean? Well, I am not fashionable, because I am not convinced by flat design.

iOS6 lock screen compared to iOS7 flat design
Has flat design damaged the usability of websites and applications?

Many websites and applications have so completely rejected skeuomorphism, that they now lack the visual cues that enable people to see at a glance what they are meant to do. I have therefore decided to propose the following debate topic for the podcast…

This house proposes that the current trend towards flat design is damaging the usability and intuitiveness of many websites and applications.

The question is do you agree with me? Have we gone too far with flat design and our rejection of skeuomorphism? Do users still need visual cues or is skeuomorphism just patronising? As always, I look forward to reading your comments.

I have something to say!

  • richarddale

    I definitely think mobile sites have their place. Many of the sites I built prior to RWD, static sites that view great on desktop and tablet. Its only when you get down to smart phone size that things start to break down. For many of these sites a mobile specific site would probably work better than a RWD site where I could be more focused and target the medium specifically.

    I did a RWD e-commerce website recently and although the end results were good, trying to get the shopping basket working and looking correct whilst being responsive was a nightmare and I couldn’t help but think that a mobile specific site would have been a better solution. When I browse the web using my iPad Air I never visit a fix width website and think this is a poor user experience why don’t they have a RWD site. I ony ever think this when on my iPhone.