Material Design and Flat Design

Differences between Material Design and Flat Design

There are two design styles: material design and flat design. However, despite the distinctions between them, there is a narrow line that cuts across them. One is basing on the other. Both material design and flat design have specific features that make them critical and distinct. One design type is a spontaneously adapted trend in design, and the other has undergone development for a particular purpose with a set of guidelines. Ideally, the choice of a design form relies on a personal perspective. However, material design and flat design’s distinct features and characteristics play a crucial role in individual-level preferences.

There is a relationship between the two designs, with each being difficult to distinguish from the other. However, on a close look at what each entails, you will at least get to note some of the typical vital differences underlying them. Looking at inherency between them can shed some light on what the designs predominantly touch on. Also, usage, betterment in use in certain aspects, and skeuomorphism are critical in establishing distinctions between them. Let’s first get to know how the difference between the two sets in skeuomorphism.

If you are wondering what skeuomorphism is, you probably have to worry no more. Contextually, skeuomorphism means a design that mimics the norms of the physical world. A typical comparison of skeuomorphism is making online features and tools to replicate real-world variants. A perfect instance of the transformation of online tools to be look-alikes of the real world is synthesizing programs to serve as exact keyboards in the real world. Since the implementation of such techniques in skeuomorphism, they have taken up almost the entire web and interface development. Skeuomorphism does not support its base on digital usability but mimics what things in the real world look like.

After some time, the design field gained momentum to attain advanced usability elements. Usability should be centralized when designing products to achieve advanced bettered usage. As a result, there are increased speeds when handling properly built applications from the design stage. Let us know more about the designs to understand the distinctive characteristics of each.


Flat Design

Flat design typically cuts down to the basics and focuses on removing stylistic choices. It entails excellent adherence to typographical, color, and iconic aspects. Therefore, any stylistic options that bring about the ease of three-dimensionality like gradients have no place in flat design. It serves digital media purposes. A significant advantage of flat design gains from various subsectors lies in the internet’s unique properties. The use of simple buttons demonstrates effective design; hence users have ample time navigating pages through controls.

A great point to reiterate is the secondary appearance role the flat design plays. The entire focus of the flat design bases on basic functionality. It ensures to simplify various aspects such as icons hence making it more simple and easier for end-users. In appearance, the flat design ensures to maximize on incorporating multiple techniques to ensure that users have a wonderful time interacting with the interfaces. For instance, the choice of colors, pictures, and the entire appearance of elements like buttons are unique such that users can easily follow them as guidelines of what to do next. There needs no further guidance as the user can interpret or read some logic from the pictures and colors before establishing what to do next.

The flat design fastens some of the features, and it does so by enhancing load times and the entire looks of the component under development. With flat designs, the elements or product’s looks under development is always better regardless of whether the screens have low quality or high-quality displays. Users have a perfect time interacting with the interface, and the end outcome is a reliable user experience. Generally, the flat design ensures to make everything easier for both users and designers. Let us focus on some of the advantages and disadvantages related to choosing a flat design.

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Advantage of flat design

  • The design fits the requirements of the screen regardless of the limits.
  • It cuts off unwanted graphical and animated features to reduce the load time, making the user experience faster, easier, and reliable.
  • Removal of skeuomorphic features helps advance the reader’s experience by ensuring a nice flow and content progression.
  • It gets rid of unwanted design choices hence ensuring faster designing of various sites.
  • The sites that underlie flat design are faster and responsive.

Disadvantages of flat design 

  • Since flat design confines to simplicity, there is a limitation in iconography, shape, and color.
  • Taking it into great concern can develop a site with little features and a site that is not generic.
  • The flat design has some form of ubiquity, which can result in the creation of that are non-original looking.
  • Flat design isn’t more suitable when designing complex applications or platforms with complex features as there are features cut off.

Material Design

Material design is one of the most unique techniques used in developing most applications, features, and other technological platforms. The system has a layer concept borrowed from image editors. Separation is done through animations, bevels, and even drop shadows. The material design explores the need for a correlation between the depth of advancement of features with functionality. Material design entails a range of design standards created by Google. It boasts reliable and beautiful features and takes greater use of the Z-axis. Here, there is, to some extent, the use of skeuomorphism. Therefore, the impression brought about through this design is quite appealing to the eye.

Material design is an excellent kind of design and maximizes usage in Android application development. Therefore, this means that material design has perfect use in other developments. However, it is not clear whether the design is fit for iOS platforms or development.

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Advantages of Material design  

  • There is easier interaction among program courtesy of the three-dimensional arrangement used in material design. A good instance is the use of drop shadows to define the structure of layers.
  • Material design entails many advanced guidelines that are specific; hence anyone using the design has no doubts.
  • The design provides a unified experience across all devices, especially when developing features or products on various platforms.
  • It is a perfect option when you want to direct your interest in animations. It has inbuilt animations that would have taken enough time to develop.

Disadvantages of material design 

  • As stated earlier, material design has a more fantastic backed up mindset behind the world’s renowned company, Google. It would be more difficult to use Google guidelines, especially when creating other features from other non-compatible platforms.
  • Every system does not support pulling off of intended framerates invested in material design.
  • The material design supports animations, which can sometimes drain the batteries of the user’s device.
  • It can stifle individual creativity hence slowing development. It comes in because of adherence to the available guidelines.


The material design does vary significantly from flat design because there is a correlation between the two. Of course, both are designs that serve a similar purpose and use minimal and clean aesthetics. However, there are slight distinctions that adjust the functionalities of each. One of them explores an in-depth view of design with the exploration of critical features. However, according to the architecture of each design, there are accompanying advantages and disadvantages. We have seen that material design serves a greater use of advanced features, while flat design simplifies almost everything to enhance and ensure reliable usability.

To get a clear understanding of how both relate, though, with little differences, you can look at material design interfaces as flat separated interfaces. Also, you can consider the use of animations in material design. They are considering more excellent and serve a deeper purpose of also enhancing user-friendliness.

Generally, there is some practicality when using flat design. Its clarity is available when exploring flat websites. The websites have faster loading speeds than those that are more complex with animations and other features. Designing more straightforward websites gives the user a perfect time of enjoying reliable user experiences with each of the available features loading quicker. So, flat websites serve a range of users on a range of devices regardless of technical expertise. However, if you want to make your website more complex on any other feature, you will have to use complex features such as animations. The inclusion of such means incorporation of a material design into your development project.

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Written by:

Muzammil K

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Muzammil K is the Marketing Manager at Aalpha Information Systems, where he leads marketing efforts to drive business growth. With a passion for marketing strategy and a commitment to results, he's dedicated to helping the company succeed in the ever-changing digital landscape.