When describing what Flat design is, it's easier to think of an opposite trend – Skeuomorphic Design, the style that's dominated the web over the past several years. Skeuomorphism is the attempt at emulating real-world effects of light, shadow, and depth on-screen by using textures, gradients and drop-shadows. Shiny embossed buttons and fabric-textured backgrounds are common uses of skeuomorphic design. This type of design has been made even more popular by apps like the Apple book store which emulates a wooden book shelf, and the calendar app that looks like a spiral notebook. Like all trends, skeuomorphic design is starting to fade.
What happens when we lose the shadows and gradients, and focus our design on authenticity and accessibility? You get a simpler design.. you get "Flat" Design. Depending on who you ask, they'll tell you flat design is either dead or it's the next new thing. But don't just take their word. Look at some of the top interface designs of 2013 and you'll see that Flat is here to stay. With Android, Windows 8 and Apple IO7 adopting flat design in their UIs, you can bet we'll be seeing more of this style in web design too.
In no particular order, here's a look at 17 well designed Joomla templates that embrace the Flat style.
2. NuModusVersus by Nuevvo (free)
14. Afterburner2 by Rockettheme (free)
15. nuArt by Nuevvo
17. Stack Ideas
This last one, StackIdeas, is not a template provider, but they do provide awesome Joomla extensions. I've included them in the list because they recently redesigned their site in a clean, flat style and it looks great!
If you're a theme developer and looking for a place to start with Flat design, have a look at the Flat UI Pro kit from Desigmodo. It's built on Bootstrap and can easily be incorporated into a Joomla theme.
Lastly, I need your help! You've probably noticed that most of the Flat design examples above are Joomla templates. Do you know of any actual Joomla-powered sites using one of these templates, or Flat design in general? Share your site in the comments below. I'd love to get a resource going for future articles on Joomla design trends.