What is flat website design?

An example of flat design for a dental website created by MDPM: Rodem Tree Dental in Rowlett, Texas

Last week, we discussed horizontal versus vertical website navigation and why horizontal is the standard we currently stick to when it comes to designing custom, optimized, cutting-edge websites for our clients. In an effort to ensure that we continue to produce websites that look and function according to the most up-to-date user experience standards, part of my responsibilities as VP of Design include researching and learning about the latest techniques and best practices for modern-day web design.

I recently delivered 2 very different website design options to a new MDPM Consulting client. One design was dynamic, while the other was flat. Both designs featured the same information, elements, user experience goals, and more, but the designs were polar opposites of each other. This doctor loved both of her design proposals, but ultimately ended up selecting the flat option. (We don’t want to give away too many details right now, but we’re very excited about this Dallas-based dentist’s website. It’s very different from anything we’ve done recently, and we can’t wait to showcase it in an upcoming Client Feature Friday post!)

So, what exactly is flat website design?

According to Creative Bloq, “flat design is a minimalistic design approach that emphasizes usability. It features clean, open space, crisp edges, bright colours and two-dimensional/flat illustrations.” Much like its name suggests, “flat design refers to a style of interface design which removes any stylistic choices that give the illusion of three-dimensions (such as drop shadows, gradients, textures, or other tools that add depth),” as Wikipedia states.

And here’s a fun fact from Adobe’s Dreamweaver Team Blog: “The origins of flat design are dated to the 1940s and ’50s by most sources. It’s back then when something called the Swiss Style was born. It was a trend in print design that appears remarkably modern when we look at it with our fresh, 2015 eyes.”

But, is flat design here to stay?

This design approach is very different from the dynamic trend we’ve seen over the past few years, and — for this reason — there’s something I want to point out: minimalist doesn’t mean boring. Bright, contrasting colors make illustrations and buttons pop from backgrounds, easily grab attention, and guide the user’s eye. In fact, the purpose of a minimalist design is to draw attention to the important information and — ultimately — to guide users through the funnel of your website. The final destination? Your practice’s contact page so that the website visitor contacts your office by phone, email, or contact form to schedule an appointment.

Honestly, I wish flat design had a better name. This lackluster term just doesn’t convey what it’s capable of.

Flat design’s time to shine?

It’s true that part of the (re)emergence of flat design was driven by the move to mobile that we’ve talked so much about recently. The need for websites to be fully responsive and mobile-friendly calls for simpler website designs. But — again — simple doesn’t equate to boring or basic. When done properly, flat designs can be modern, beautiful, user-friendly, unique, and — most importantly — an online extension of your physical dental office and practice’s brand.

The bottom line is that flat design is the current trend in web design, but that doesn’t mean that dynamic design is on the way out. In fact, you’ll continue to see a mix of both styles in the designs created for MDPM’s valued clients. There’s merit in both approaches, and our design and technical teams continue to successfully build, launch, and maintain websites of various design styles according to today’s SEO and user experience techniques and best practices.

We’re excited to offer this web design style option to our clients, whether we’re creating a brand new website or giving an existing website a makeover.

Want to know more about the current trends in dental website design? Ready to create or update the digital face of your dental practice? The experts at MDPM Consulting have got you covered. Give Jill a call at (972) 781-8861 or send us an email at info@moderndentalmarketing.com.