11 Resources to Help You Create a Flat Design Responsive Site

by 23 01/24/2014

2014’s web design slogan might as well be “Flat is Where It’s At.”

All over the web, you’ll find dozens of tutorials, elements and examples showing you how to create your own flat-style web design.

But what exactly is a flat design—and why should you care?

As it turns out, flat web design is just as much about trend-setting as it is about improving the user experience.  Let’s talk about why and how, and then I’ll share 11 resources to help you create your own flat style, responsive site.

Why Flat Design?

Flat design has been around for a while, but it really took off when Windows 8 and its “Metro” interface hit the stage, shifting design trends from bulky textures and gradients to vibrant colors, simple shapes and “flat” elements—hence the name.

There’s also a considerable shift toward more white space and large typography, making it easy to browse the layout on a variety of devices.

 example

An example of a flat web design

Flat design is also the antithesis to skeumorphism, a design term that simply means a digital graphic that has its inspiration from a real-life object.

Apple’s previous designs focused heavily on the skeumorphism angle—you can see the hands on the analog clock or click buttons on the digital calculator. Except that when you’re sitting at a computer, the analog clock on your screen is difficult to read, and the calculator buttons are a pain to click individually when you could simply type them in instead.

 appleinterface

Apple’s analog clock and calculator are cumbersome to use in a keyboard/mouse environment

Here’s another example. Notice the realistic icons converted to simple shapes:

 skeumorphic-02-comparison-flat

Skeumorphism vs. Flat Design – Source: Basic Principles of Flat Design

In these cases, large, flat, easily tappable buttons and digital interfaces would be much more inviting. And this idea has finally extended to the web as well.

What Does it Mean for Website Users?

Websites are naturally suited to blocks of content, a type of layout where flat design is totally comfortable.

And, while I don’t recommend ditching your current design just to embrace a trend where it doesn’t make sense, there is a marked difference in the conversion rates of simpler, clearly illustrated sites versus their cluttered counterparts.

Plus, flat designs are endlessly adaptable and are perfectly at home in mobile environments as well as on tablets and regular computers, making them great for responsive designs.

How Do I Create One?

Glad you asked!  There are tons of design resources out there to help anyone who wants to create a flat website design, but listed below are some of my personal favorites spanning a variety of categories.

Website Layouts

Wireframe (GIF and PSD)

wireframes

This wireframe design (also available as a PSD) will help you lay out your new flat website according to best design practices.

Flat GUI Set

psds

This collection contains 7 PSDs, a vector PSD, 500+ individual elements, as well as vector icons. 30 different colors available.  Everything from music playlists to contact details and error messages are included here in a flat style.  Free and commercial versions available.

Responsive Frameworks

 Furatto

furattoFuratto is an open-source responsive framework made with flat design elements

Furatto includes elements for landing pages, carousel slideshows, basic templates and a dashboard, among many other things.  Its flexibility and ease of use let you create stylish layouts on the fly.

Responsive Web CSS

responsive

Design responsive layouts in minutes with Responsive Web CSS

Responsive Web CSS is a quick way to prototype how your design will look in a variety of devices.  This method saves hours of time and helps you get the layout just right without the hassle or guesstimation.

Bootstrap

bootstrap

Twitter’s Bootstrap framework is one of the most popular choices for quickly building responsive designs.

bootstrap-examplesExamples of sites built with Bootstrap

 Icons and Elements

What good would a flat design be without the corresponding icons, buttons and other elements that make it stand out?  Here are some of the best free selections:

Simple & Bold

SimpleBoldUIElementsSimple and Bold User Interface Elements

Dribble gives you a variety of user interface element in three distinct color schemes, including icons, maps, calendar, search box and more.

 PSD Flat UI Kit

flatui-tanone

Here’s a beautiful user interface kit from Riki Tanone.  A blog version is also available from that link.

Flat Social Icons

social2

Pixedon offers 16 flat style social media icons, available as PSD.

More Flat Social Icons

socialicons

If your favorite social network wasn’t included in the 16 flat icon designs above, it’s bound to be in this collection of 40 social icons.

3,000+ Flat Iconsflat

Get 3,000+ flat icons from IconShock, available as free (personal) and commercial varieties.

Flat UI Colors

colors

Flat UI colors gives you pixel-perfect colors for your flat web design. Just click and paste!

What Are Some of Your Favorite Flat Web Design Resources?

Those are my faves. Share yours in the comments below!

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob

About 

Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates with custom design, copywriting and website reviews.  Get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up by visiting iElectrify.com.

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23 COMMENTS

Sharon Hurley Hall

I was looking for something like this, Sherice. I’d also be interested in finding the best ways to get started with flat, responsive design if you have an existing WordPress site. I’ve been looking but it seems that it’s either flat or responsive for many developers – any tips?

January 24, 2014 Reply

    Sherice Jacob

    Hi Sharon — there are many themes on sites like Themeforest that are both flat AND responsive, so you get the best of both worlds! :)

    January 24, 2014 Reply

      Sharon Hurley Hall

      Sounds good to me, Sherice – now all I need is a guide to choosing Themeforest themes. ;)

      January 24, 2014 Reply

        Sherice

        Now *there’s* the million-dollar question! :)

        Honestly though, check out the reviews, comments, and the last time the author made an update to the theme – it really says a lot about their support (or lack of it)

        January 24, 2014 Reply

Justin

Great Post ! We just just relaunched our site this week using flat-design and really like how it turned out. Would love your feedback Sherice – you can visit it at http://www.net-craft.com.

January 24, 2014 Reply

Kaloyan Banev

No doubt flat design is the trend that will rule throughout 2014. Excellent resource list, I will definitely grab some of these sets.

January 27, 2014 Reply

Boca website design

In 2014 the trends of web design is all about the flat design and the flat responsive web design is great and it will be at the top for whole 2014 and the information you have given about the flat web design is very good and useful thanks for sharing.

January 31, 2014 Reply

enzo

I would also add FlatInspire for inspiration. Very good article btw, thanks for sharing.

March 6, 2014 Reply

Web Design London

Yep, just ‘love’ Bootstrap, and the elements that go with it – makes for good responsive design

March 10, 2014 Reply

PSD to Responsive

A very attractive list of resources! Thanks for sharing. I’d also like to add a little history about why the transition from skeuomorphic to flat design happened. Read it here.

March 12, 2014 Reply

Araby Alhomsi

Thank You for amazing Article,I love flat Design, ” from Syria”.

April 9, 2014 Reply

punom

Thanks
Kathryn Aragon for your nice comment

May 6, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    You’re welcome, Punom. Let us know if we can help you in any way.

    May 7, 2014 Reply

Felix

Cool overall view! Thanks Sherice! I like the Flat-UI Color Website. Excatly what i was looking for :)

June 16, 2014 Reply

Ashish Ajani

Great article and completely agree with you about Twitter Bootstrap, I often recommand Twitter Bootstrap at first place and then creating it from scratch using HTML5. As Bootstrap provides everything we need to make a very good responsive websites. Thank you for sharing such nice article.

July 8, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Ashish, glad we could help. Thanks for the great feedback :)

    July 8, 2014 Reply


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