Skeuomorphism is dead, long live skeuomorphism
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Flat design is a user interface design style that uses simple, two-dimensional elements and bright colors. It is often contrasted to the skeuomorphic style that gives the illusion of three dimensions through copying real-life properties. Its popularity became prominent with the release of Windows 8, Apple’s iOS 7, and Google’s Material Design, all of which utilize flat design.
Flat design was originally developed for responsive design, where a website’s content scales smoothly depending on the device’s screen size. With the use of simple shapes and minimal textures, flat design ensures that responsive designs work well and load fast (especially important since mobile devices have slower internet speeds). By reducing the amount of visual noise (in the form of textures and shadows), flat design provides users with a streamlined and more optimal user experience.
However, despite its popularity, flat design also has drawbacks regarding the user experience. The absence of three-dimensional effects (e.g., drop shadows) takes away the cues that indicate how a user can interact with a design. For example, buttons in the flat design style do not appear distinct from other visual elements on a webpage, and therefore do not appear clickable. Because of this danger, flat design is increasingly applied in a more balanced way, often referred to as “flat design 2.0” or “almost flat design.” This trend takes the clean and simple visuals from flat design and adds some subtle skeuomorphic qualities such as color variations and shadows. With this increased depth and dimension, visual variety increases and usability improves. For instance, Google’s Material Design and Apple’s iOS interfaces heavily use shadows and/or blurring effects to make their interfaces more intuitive to use.
Here’s the entire UX literature on Flat Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Take a deep dive into Flat Design with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .
If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!
“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”
— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup
As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.
In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.
You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.
If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.
In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.
In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience.
In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.
In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.
You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:
Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data
Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London
Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics
Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups
Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile
Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking
Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile
William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm
Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.
You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.
You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.
You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.