Hi, skeu
Design creationists hold that in the beginning, there was skeuomorphism. And it was good – mostly because computers back then couldn’t handle a lot of… well, anything really! Skeuomorphic design really helped us out, because it allowed designers to mimic real-world objects, which assisted inexperienced users in navigating desktop interfaces.

Then the witch-hunts came.

Drop shadows, textures and reflections were all burned at the stake, and even gradients were found to weigh the same as a duck – which means they were made of wood – and we all know what that means. To make a long story short, when we figured out how to turn zeroes and ones into hyper-realistic computer displays, skeuomorpism’s days were numbered.

Bye, skeu
As “photorealistic” became passé, tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple all started adopting flat design interfaces. And because flat couldn’t be further from its predecessor, it gave designers a clean slate to innovate. This new, quasi-minimalist style quickly became an industry standard, and boasted a simplicity and consistency that appealed to both designers and users alike.

When flat falls flat
There’s a fine line between “simple” and “sterile,” however, and some artists fear that flat design comes at the expense of personality. Wells Riley, a designer at Collective Ray, sees “post-flat” as the solution; a way of bringing a little bit of madness back to the method:

“Let’s try this out. Dust off your drop shadows and gradients, and introduce them to your flat color buttons and icons. Do your absolute best work without feeling restricted to a single aesthetic. Bring variety, creativity, and delight back to your interfaces… it’s a refreshing and exciting challenge.”

Sounds pretty exciting. If post-flat is the next big thing, then we’re all equal players in defining the next big design trend. As for Riley, here’s how he defines it:

  • Hierarchy defined using size and composition along with color.
  • Affordant buttons, forms, and interactive elements.
  • Skeuomorphs to represent 1:1 analogs to real-life objects (the curl of an e-book page, for example) in the name of user delight.
  • Strong emphasis on content, not ornamentation.
  • Beautiful, readable typography.

For more examples of post-flat design, check out:

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