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Why is everything so flat?

There's one company that apparently never got the memo about simple and flat design.
Multi billion revenue and their logo still has that "Whoa, look what my computer can do with the letters!" vibe.

it's actually amusing because having been in german supermarkets - and i know it's austria, a different thing - this just screams german visual design
+1 to the Google Material Design as a significant factor in this. It's kind of the "default" for a lot of web sites these days - if your company wants your website to look modern but doesn't want to spend enough to create a really unique style, you use Material Design and it looks modern, but flat. It's also the default an Android, so a good chunk of the mobile market is flat, and iOS isn't all that different.

At a more macro level, I think it's a counter-reaction to the skeuomorphic trend that faded in the mid-2000s. I'm personally a fan of skeuomorphism, it just has more character, but it's still considered dated at this point in time. I also agree that user interfaces are clearer when they have some depth to them; with a really flat UI, it can be hard to tell what's a button, or clickable, or a link, etc.

The lack of ornamentation in physical buildings? I think that's partly trying to keep up with what's perceived as the trends - architecture has always followed trends - and partly because it saves money. I'm generally not a fan of modern architecture - postmodern architecture - but it could be worse, go to an area built in the time of Brutalist architecture where it was almost all unornamented concrete, and today's architecture is beautiful in comparison. But yes, there is a lot of glass and flat (but more-colorful-than-concrete) architecture. I work in an Art Deco skyscraper and live in a building that would fit in to the "1890s Chicago" style in Sim City 4 (and might actually have been built in the 1890s), so I'm a fan of the more decorative styles. But I'm sure it does cost somewhat more to have all those nice details, and at some point someone has to make the decision that it's worth it to pay the difference. For whatever reason, that's less common today than it was 100 years ago.
I do find I miss art deco now that most of it has been knocked down and replaced with lesser creations.
Over the last decade and a half, it feels like flat, minimalist design is just sort of everywhere.

A good example of this would be comparing Windows XP/Vista/7 to the more recent editions of Windows: no shading, no detail, no depth, minimal customization. 11 slightly walked this back, but it's not just your computer desktop.

Pull up a snapshot of any site from the 2000's and compare it to now. I pulled up this forum as it looked when I joined in 2010, and while the difference is subtle, you can definitely tell the details are different. The "Modern CFC" theme in 2010 when we were hosted on vBulletin uses more varied shades of grey, as well as red pinstripes, whereas present-day Modern CFC XF 2.2 has more or less the same shade of almost-white over most of the page, with grey pinstripes (albeit still with some red accents). To be fair, some of the character remains, since as an old-fashioned ( I say this with love :D) community message board, CFC is not under the same pressure to change for change's sake that a mainstream social media platform owned by a publically traded corporation has. Most social media platforms went from flashy, detail oriented designs in the 2000's with insane levels of profile customization to "Screw you, just upload an avatar. Maybe if we feel generous, we'll let you peasants have a banner at the top of your profile and a button to toggle dark mode.:deal:"

The internet is perhaps the best example of this, but in the video I posted in the "what are you watching" thread that prompted me to finally get this off my chest, the narrator also talks about how chain restaraunts in the US mostly abandoned detailed designs to draw in customers in favor of a sort of sterile "airport bathroom" aesthetic, while their logos also follow the flat, minimalist trend in web design. This trend has only gotten worse with COVID, as many restaurants now seem indifferent at having customers come in and eat, when a large share of customers seem to order take out or use delivery apps, but I feel like this break towards austerity started with the Recession.

So, what do y'all think? Is the flat design trend of the last decade a simple fad that will cycle out in time? Is it (as I suspect some of my fellow lefties on this board would suggest) a symptom of late stage capitalism, as companies take self-cannibalizing austerity to it's natural conclusion? Is it something else entirely?
Well if you like to read anything but black text on white, be my guest. I hate it. I don't think it's "flat", it prevents my eyes straining is what...
Well if you like to read anything but black text on white, be my guest. I hate it. I don't think it's "flat", it prevents my eyes straining is what...
That's not what flat design is.
Why is everything so flat?

- Because it in theory* makes responsive front-end design simpler and faster to implement
- Which in theory* means you end up paying less to make it so, which is attractive to businesses
- It's also what everybody else is doing right now, flat design is in style, so everybody's on board.

* "in theory" because there are many more factors that impact how expensive front-end design is. Many organizations and people suck at - people who suck implementing things that are in theory more efficient doesn't necessarily mean that the end product will be so, or that the path taken to get there will be necessarily less complex and/or cheaper.

IMO design fads and trends come and go in a cyclical sort of way. In 30-40 years we might again be seeing 3D-styled gradients everywhere again. I wouldn't put any money on that, but flat design isn't here to stay. Eventually there will be some new hot thing everybody's doing, and everybody will migrate to that, even if it means a bit extra inefficiency when doing front-end design work.
That's TBH more caused by our inability and/or lack of time to re-create the original style, and not an active design choice :blush:.

Some of us have fond memories of Dark Blue (though I love Dark CFC now and wouldn't change it for anything :)).

I tried Turnip Green a time or two, and... the name just reminded me of every vegetable I don't like. I tried to pretend the name was something different, and then green beans and Brussels sprouts came to mind and I changed back to Dark Blue.

The Christmas themes have always been too busy for comfort, no matter if vBulletin or XenForo.

basically think of it this way. most books have the vast majority of pages clean and blank where the clear contrast of the text can be read. now, each book could be personalized with each page having a random set of patterns behind the words. but it tires the eyes unless done very well. like, actual strain. takes a lot of focus to parse complicated imagery.

There's a Star Trek fanfiction site that has terrific stories, but I have to wonder who thought up the actual design. Navigation isn't easy, and the patterned background that changes color from story to story is not very comfortable for my eyes.

interestingly, there's a similar movement in books that there was incredulous and indulgent detail in quite a bit of older manuscripts. tomes were precious to make, precious to read (in the west, they were often connected to the esoteric and mystical), so you had a lot of time to properly detail each page, and in turn, reading a book was also a considerable endeavour since they were few and far between.

Way back in the '80s when I'd recently joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, a University of Ithra weekend was held in our branch (functions like a real university, except the degrees and certificates achieved can't be applied in the mundane world). I took a calligraphy course, and the instructor must have thought I'd done well, as he asked, "Have you considered becoming a scribe?"

SCA scribes are people who produce scrolls. These could be promissory scrolls, but also the huge official scrolls people receive when they get awards that move them up in rank and within the Peerage. I was being asked to consider taking on the task of producing these large poster-size things, done in calligraphy with pen and bottles of ink, letters perfectly formed and everything perfectly spelled. And that's not counting the illumination that would be done by someone else who specialized in that (not many people could do both calligraphy and illumination).

I took it as a compliment that the instructor thought I could do this, but it honestly scared me. Scrolls like these are considered works of art, and I wasn't at all confident that I could really do them the justice they deserved. Some people worked for years to gain the achievements that earned them these scrolls, and nobody wants to give or receive one that has mistakes or subpar workmanship. I did end up doing calligraphed feast menus, though - much easier, and I could honestly say that they were not something I'd just run off with my computer and printer.

Fancy books were around before books as we know them, of course. Scrolls were sometimes decorated and illustrated in various ways.

a similar thing happened with the internet. as processing power and graphics and whatever made it easier to showcase what you could do that made your technological thing special. websites were done on dialup, so it was something you dedicated time to, it was limited. then each website would have a lot of care put into it looking like its own thing. but as things have come always-online, people are always browsing websites, etc. it emulates the physical page to lessen strain then (a lot of early desktop design did that too in another way, to shorthand what was required of the user to take in; desktop, folder, recycling bin are all office elements).
I miss the days of InvisionFree forums. Mind you, I don't miss not being able to post images or videos, but coming up with original themes (we called them skins) was fun. I did quite a bit of that, over 10 years ago. I remember posting an announcement on the Doctor Who forum: "I'm going to skin the forum, and I'm not taking us offline, so you might notice things changing as you're reading or posting. Let me know if something suddenly doesn't work right."

One person quoted "I'm going to skin the forum" and responded with, "Alive? :eek:

Well, yes. Alive. I figured there was no need to shut it down while doing it, because the changes were just aesthetic, not functional. I turned that default InvisionFree forum into a Fourth Doctor-era TARDIS, with a starry background and custom set of Fourth Doctor smileys that the owner of the smileygenerator forum created for me (as a thank you for the time I'd put in creating other smileys and working on that 15,000-smiley archive we had on that site).

like, have you ever been at an art museum for a whole day? brain gets tired, whether you enjoy it or not.

I've been at a museum for most of a day, but yeah, you need to vary what you look at. I remember looking at the art in Glenbow, and thinking that the pictures of Alberta and BC weren't as good as my grandmother's.

basically - like books, white background = less strain, unlike books buttons and (more) lines are needed, so keep buttons simple and add hamburgers and such.

Mm, nope. White background gives too much glare. Every site that offers me a dark background option gets changed to a dark background.

Since some people are complaining that their OS's do not look how they want they to look I thought I would show yous all the range of customisation that should be possible. These are all desktops on top of basically the same OS.
Spoiler Customized Linux Desktops :

Yikes. Not into abstract. I prefer actual pictures, or at least appealing scenes from my favorite computer games. My current desktop is a scene from one of the winter-themed Jewel Match games, with a castle.

(also dark themes are generally better for eye stress so long as the constrast is well-designed)

Definitely. :yup:
That's a name I haven't heard in ages! :crazyeye:
I used to run several of them. Two of them were RPG forums that were breakaways from The Forum That Shall Not Be Named where a bunch of forum politics and anti-LGBT bigotry caused so much chaos that at least 5 breakaway forums were created by those of us who refused to stay and be bullied or see our friends bullied by the owner and his friends, another was a Doctor Who forum dedicated to Tom Baker/Fourth Doctor, and the other was a Dune/Frank Herbert forum. There were quite a few others I either belonged to as a member or was a moderator (ie. the smileygenerator forum).

The pro version of Invision forums is still around, though not as commonly found anymore. The Mighty Pen (writing forum) is still around, though mostly inactive. I also belong to a Roman history forum that's been pretty quiet for a long while, though there are occasional conversations. And then it seems a new person on staff (the site that includes the forum) has been putting in a lot of time on newsletters lately. There have been over a dozen in the last couple of weeks.

The Mighty Pen still has its old theme, that's honestly so cluttered that I can barely read it. Apparently someone installed some kind of vampire/noir theme and just forgot about it. The Roman history forum looks ungodly bland these days. It needs sprucing up with a more interesting background and some color.

InvisionFree used to have a skin generator that people could use to experiment with, trying out different color schemes and backgrounds to see what it would look like before making any actual changes in their own forums. That came in very handy, and sometimes just for kicks I'd put in some random hexadecimal number into each area just to see if I might accidentally create something cool. Sometimes they turned out not too bad. A lot of times they were eye-hurtingly awful. And some were just plain boring.
Mm, nope. White background gives too much glare. Every site that offers me a dark background option gets changed to a dark background.
i prefer dark mode too. point is more clear, non-busy textures over grains and stripes and what have you.



and ofc there's better, more pleasant ways to do that, but - the point is that busy designs are hard to do quickly while remaining pleasant to look at.

so people default to white, black, bone, etc.
Here what I mean:
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