The Complete Flat Website Design Guide

Flat website design is steadily becoming popular replacing the commonly known intricate designs that are dominated by drop shadows, gradients and brushes. Flat websites is the new trend with a rising design style that incorporates flat shapes and icons. A flat design basically revolves around the use of triangles, circles, rectangles and other shapes without the need to use other design elements like gradients, strokes or shadows as seen on Microsoft’s most-recent computer operating system Windows 8. A flat design is specifically based on two principles- readability and simplicity which guide designers in coming up with flat yet stylish software designs, web layouts, posters and other key applications.

The Complete Flat Website Design Guide


Flat design refrains from the use of intricacies with the absence of drop shadows, strokes and other design elements. This is because more and more people are now embracing simple and easy to recognize website design styles. The inception of mobile browsing has also encouraged flat design because where the screen space is limited, the only way maximize the use of the pixels on the screen would be to use simple images. This is more of a minimalist style where designers mostly focus on wide spacing between images, icons and other important elements of a website page or application. What is more, simple and flat images usually tend to load faster compared to those that are incorporated in intricate designs where the browser cannot load design elements packed together with the main image.


The principle of readability is also more of a minimalist style where design focuses more on leaving white empty spaces so that the text can be seen well. Lack of drop shadows, gradients and strokes also ensures that texts placed within the web page can easily be read. Facebook and Google have best put flat design to work by using simple yet colorful icons, designs and other eye-friendly visuals.

Flat website design is slowly invading apps, computers and our web pages bringing in 5 common elements that we will soon be familiar with.

  • Lack Of Depth
  • The Use Of Simple Elements
  • Typography
  • Color
  • Minimalism
  • Absence Of Depth

Flat website design lacks depth especially when compared with previous design styles where drop shadows, strokes, gradients and bevels are important design elements. This design on the other hand focuses mostly on simple 2D print where images don’t imitate the shape color or the use of a real world object. With a flat design, there is no background image or real world textures. Websites developed through 3D design elements with computer generated images use bevels, strokes, textures, gradients and embosses. Such elements are removed in flat design contributing to drop in depth and basically what a website shows is the visual presentation of plain text and images.

Simple Elements

With the absence of depth in flat web design, icons, images and other design elements become visually simple to a user. Icons are made to appear flat using basic geometric shapes such as rectangles, squares, circles and even triangles. This is to provide a graphic user interface that any website user can easily navigate through. For an average person, flat design eliminates the need for manual navigation because the visuals present themselves as they are used.

For instance when you see an ”F” icon you will easily know that it represents Facebook while a ”G” icon stands for Google. The settings menu on a website is also represented by an icon of a gear. This is basically how a flat web design works with simpler logos on different websites for easier recognition. This eliminates complexities that are usually associated with intricately designed sites something which can be a challenge to many web users.


Websites that have flat designs also have elements of typography in them. Typographies are basically used in web pages even with texts to add style and also provide a reader friendly interface. With this design, there is no need for calligraphy. Instead, crisp and clear font texts are used with shorter messages chromatically placed with different colors and shapes making reading simpler.


Just like any website design style color is also important in flat website design. It can make or break your web page and in most cases it basically set the whole feel of your website or page. In a flat design, desaturated colors work best in adding aesthetic beauty to your page without overdoing things by making the pages too bright something that can make users uncomfortable. Proper colors in a flat design should attract the eyes better and also easily complement or be contrasted with other colors. Candy colors such as yellow, green, blue and red are the most recommended. The colors should however provide a good match with other design elements especially typography without taking attention away from the main text on the page. You should also avoid bright yellow, bright red, bright orange, neon purple and neon yellow green colors as well. Such colors will only make visitors to your website glare.

Minimalism: Less Is More & Even Less Is Most

This is usually the art of de-cluttering a web page or rather the screen. Essentially, this is a principle where white spaces on a website are more evident that the text itself. This design style provides breathing space for your texts and generally a suggests a typographical order. In a proper flat web design, you should therefore leave a lot of empty white spaces and get rid of unnecessary elements. Remember that in a minimalist style, less is more & lesser is most.

Bear in mind that though a flat design may appear to be simple, creativity is still a major factor that you should consider. Especially when thinking of possible usage of this design style, refresh your mind and come up with attractive, newer and stylish designs. Just like using an intricate design, you also have to come up with something unique in flat design. You can start by being experimental, trying your own styles, making mistakes in the process, correcting them and eventually you will become a better artist at flat website design.

Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)