Flat design was “invented” in the last year and supported by Microsoft when Windows 8 came out. It is done by avoiding gradients, shadows and letterpress and implementing more colors and minimalist illustrations.
When I created the third (blue) Maxlabs Design at the Beginning of 2012 everything was not that minimalist and reduced, yet. Now, 2013, Maxlabs V3 is really too much and many other websites are out of date, as well! Of course it is “just” a trend but who knows how things will change (again).
Looking at the image above, we see that design (and especially the flatness of UIs) really changed. The image shows all the Windows scrollbars over the last 30 years. Comparing the first one (1985) with the Windows 8 scrollbar (2012) we see that they are looking very similar. From 2001 to 2010 there was Windows XP, Vista and 7 which all had a very shiny, glossy and gradient-heavy interface.
But we see these changes not just in the user interfaces of operating systems. We see them in web design, too. That is why I want to analyze its positive aspects and why it is necessary today right now.
Flat design’s aim is to focus on the content. Huge images and bright shining and glossy buttons are gone because this will force everyone (even Designers) to look at the content instead of the design at first sight.
I remember design heavy web sites which forced me to focus on the web design first. But that should not be the objective anymore. Visitors should have a direct contact to the information (they were looking for) and flat design makes this easier.
Missy made it clear:
"Things users do care about: understanding what you do; understanding how to do what they need to do; finding the information they need; trusting that you know what the f*** you’re doing (especially if they’re giving you something like their credit card info or even their email address.) You provide them these things by making your site/app easy to navigate, easy to understand, and intuitive to use. Making if look “simple” goes a long way in doing this." Source: Don’t Blame Flat UI for your Design Problems
Because so many people use mobile phones to browse the internet nowadays, it is important to create mobile versions or responsive version of a web site by making it responsive. Flat design makes it easier to do so because it is so minimalist and you do not have to adapt 10000 elements of your web design.
Because it does not have that many graphics, web sites will also load quicker. This is another good reason to think about flat design because no one wants to wait 3 minutes to fully load a web site when the (mobile) internet connection is slowly.
The third reason: it is trendy, and your users will like it, because all the great web sites will look so in some months (or at least their mobile versions). You (as a web designer) represent the message that you are up to date, you care about the latest tendencies and you want to give them a product which is not from 2005.