Since the introduction of Material Design in 2014, much of the mobile app development work has been shaped by end-to-end arguments- Which design is better? Material Design or Flat Design.  To find the answer to this endless arguments or discussions, we need to understand the primary difference between these two mobile app designs.

Flat Design

Like the name suggests, the Flat Design refers to the flatness of style. It does not contain design elements such as gradient, textures or shadows that are essential for a 3-D look.  Flat Design primarily focuses on the interplay of icons, colors, and typography.  It is the first UI/UX design concept that has coherent styles to take care of user’s need by taking a simple approach that is more geared towards high usability quotient. The Flat Design concept makes use of simple icons and straightforward color schemes in faster identification.

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In Flat Design concept, functionality gets more importance while appearance is secondary.  However, the Flat Design looks equally good on low and high-resolution screens which help to deliver a reliable user experience. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of Flat Design concept.

The Positives of Flat Design

  • It accepts the limitations of the screen and works in sync instead of taking another direction.
  • It streamlines design by removing unnecessary graphical and animated elements that reduce loading time.
  • It is extremely adaptable and hence allows designers to make apps more responsive.

The Negatives of Flat Design

  • It is constrained as it limits the designer to use simple icons, colors, and shapes.
  • It can result in a generic looking app that fails to attract users.
  • It is not appropriate for apps where complex visual cues are required to be implemented within a design to guide the user through the process.
  • Lack of raised edges and drop shadows make it hard to differentiate between clickable buttons and non-clickable area.

Material Design

Material Design focuses on emulating the objects in the real world.  It brings back the layer concept and separates them by bevels, shadows, and animations.  This UI/UX design concept taps into human’s natural ability to find a mutual relation between depth and realism.  It has several unique and exciting features and the most important is Z axis (the third dimension).

The Z property brings back the realism into flat design where it is possible to create two-dimensional planes floating over each other at fixed elevations to create a 3-D effect. Let’s take a look at positives and negatives of Material Design Concept

The Positives of Material Design

  • The three-dimensional setup makes the application more attractive.
  • It is compatible with all platforms and offers more functionality.
  • If you are looking for animations, you have built-in API’s for it which reduces manual work.

The Negatives of Material Design

  • The Material Design concept is owned by Google. If you want to create a unique app and don’t want validation from Google, it would be a difficult process.
  • Developers are required to adhere to rendering guidelines that might stifle individual creativity.
  • Not all systems can be compatible with applied frame rates. Hence, developers may find it difficult to improve usability.
  • Animations can drain batteries very fast.

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So, which design is better?

Flat and Material design concepts go very close as they both use the same clean and aesthetic approach.  Hence there are no obvious advantages of one over the other.  If you think from android or iPhone app development point of view, Material interfaces and flat interfaces cut apart. Both mobile app design concepts are trendy and have their own place based on the purpose of what you are building.

Let’s Sum Up

If your mobile app development is focused on building something simple and more user-friendly, the Flat Design concept is just right.  However, if you want to build a fancy app with animations and attractive UI/UX, you need to embrace the Material Design concept.  It’s that simple.

mobile app development