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Flat is the New Black

Flat is the New Black

Today is the public release of Apple iOS7, the operating system for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad.

The most talked about new feature, well, isn’t a feature at all.  It’s the new User Interface Design of the system. This new “flat” UI first hit the internet with Windows 8 which was released publicly October 26 2012. That’s right, nearly a full year has gone by and now Apple is releasing its “flat” UI.

Is the sky falling? Could this be the end of all humanity? Apple is now following design trends from Microsoft? Or is it just the next evolution from the “glass pill” Apple started off with.

If you follow Mobile Design trends overall, you notice it’s shifting towards a cleaner, leaner, simpler UI. For the sake of speed and experience this is a good thing for mobile users.

Today’s release will undoubtedly raise a new question for App Makers and Big Brands alike.

Do we follow Apple’s lead and redesign our Logo or UI to match the OS or do we stand strong with our branding?

Hear are some questions you should ask yourself before making the change:

  • Will this confuse my customer base I already have trained?
  • How far will this rebrand have to go? New Letterheads and Business Cards?
  • Am I prepared to change my entire UI based on a trend?
  • Would the time be better spent developing new features instead of a new UI?
  • Does my demographic care about design trends?

Let’s spotlight 1 app the majority of people are likely to use, eBay.

Almost a year ago today, eBay rebranded their site and their logo to a flat, streamlined design. Remember the overlapping letters and shades? Some articles claim they made it look “Pinterest like” but can anyone really claim a white, flat layout with boxes? That is debatable. Their iPad App on the other hand was just updated last night to a new layout and of course “flat” design.  As one of the worlds largest online marketplaces, you’ve got to respect their willingness to stay current with UI and UX for their global audience. Now if they could only apply that same principle to their payment system.

Upon the App Launch your smacked with the 3 main functions, Watching, Buying, Selling, displayed with flat icons inside a flat box stroked with a simple border. This is a great representation of User Experience for your core app functions. It is important to note once you Watch, Buy, or Sell the icons are changed to thumbnails.

The UI features a top icon bar reinforcing visuals over text.

  • A Home Icon is straight forward enough
  • 4 Dots represent a Category Browser which displays a list not a thumbnail browser you might expect.
  • Centrally located Search bar is the focal point and well achieved.
  • A Tag icon represents you starting the sell process. The “Tag” icon may be better as tags for a blog or way to specifically label an item. In the eBay world it now represents the price tag your about to put on an object.
  • A comment bubble represents your notifications. More commonly seen as a bell or an envelope, but you will see in the slide out menu they use the envelope for User Messages and the bell for Reminders.
  • Lastly, a shopping cart represents your cart

Slide Menus are a huge User Interface space saver. They maximize the content screen by allowing the user to hide navigation when its not needed. You can see below the sleek menu navigation present in eBay’s latest update.

Now lets take a look at some possible flat icon redesigns.

These were created by Revital as an example of how major brands might be rethinking their App Icon with the new iOS launch looming. We would love to hear your take on “flat” design and the new iOS7 rebrand.