This topic caused a lot of controversies even within Erminesoft UI/UX design team. Material Design can be considered a concept, or a kind of philosophy that created numerous discussions about: “material vs flat” and “skeuomorphic vs flat design”. Why? This question will be answered in our today’s article.

A bit of history

Looking ahead, we note that every modern operating system should have some characteristics and features that would allow the user to better feel the interaction with his device. Getting more User Experience. For example, in iOS Apple formed the basic style of the entire system, there was a certain style of application that would fit into the overall concept. Which, by the way, has much in common with their “desktop” operating system. On Android, the situation was completely different, which could disappoint some users and lead them into a complete lack of understanding of the operating principle of the application.  This was due to the fact that the system did not have a certain integrity. For example, the menu items can be situated on the left in some apps, in others - on the right. And some even demanded keystrokes. Can you imagine that? Such situation on the market of smartphones and mobile operating systems lasted quite a long time until guys from Google have decided to draw a line under this matter.

Flat design vs material design

What did they do? They came up with a new word in the issue of UI/UX design to start with their own system and company style, but the idea was so interesting that it was picked up by many companies and even started to make websites in this way. Google developed and released a special brand book, a kind of guide on how could (or should) applications look like. It was so helpful that today almost all Android developers do not even think about the question “Flat design vs material design” choosing the first option.


At the time of the release of this concept, there were so many conversations around it, that we did not think it ever would be necessary to write an article on this topic. But as practice shows, not all features may be clear, as well as the purpose of the philosophy of Google. For example, we know some cases where the customer could write to make website \ web application design in the style of Material Design. As we said above, the “appearance “can be easily adapted to the needs of web services, but initially, it designed mostly for mobile devices and governs the behavior of the system with users. In such form, so that user understood how it works and what he need to do to get the maximum response and get maximum user experience.

Read alsoHow much does it cost to design an app?

For example, as an analog in iOS we can say about such functions as “Force touch” or “Taptic engine” that allow you to open a special menu in the application and get maximum tactical response from the smartphone. Here, in Android, we have a similar situation, but organized not the hardware but by the software functions.

Difference between material design and flat design

At first view, both of these approaches in the design is very similar to each other. But if to go deeper into the maze of each style, it is easy to find “10 Differences”. So, let’s talk about the difference between material design and flat design.

Flat Design:

What are the main things to know about this approach? It’s light, simple, and devoid of shadows, gradients, or a large number of layers in its concept. This was done for the sake of quicker operation and load speed. It also allows to simplify the work of the designer a bit and make the interface look the same on the screens with different sizes and resolutions. For example, you can create a kind of vector objects that would automatically scale to a specific device.

Skeuomorphism vs flat:

Skeuomorphism tried to bring elements of the interface in a more familiar, user-friendly way: how this or that object would look in the real world. Unfortunately or fortunately, many people have different views of the surrounding things, so creation of a single style of such approach was nearly impossible. And this is one of the reasons why this style receded into the background.

Material Design:

Speaking about the development of this branch of interfaces it is necessary to say of one additional coordinate axe. Thus, creating the illusion of a certain 3D directly on the screen of your smartphone, using a three-axis coordinate and shadows. And here we have a little touch of Skeuomorphism, which called us to do more realistic elements, but in a slightly different manner.

The concept of material design is in that the design as a whole and its elements in particular should be seized something of tangible objects, which would possess physical properties. Moreover it is good for it’s presence of regulation of the behavior of elements.


Is material design skeuomorphic or flat?

Is material design skeuomorphic or flat? As we wrote above, the material is more similar to the flat design, but with some branch towards skeuomorphism. I’d rather stopped at the first option. If we put aside all prejudices and will not think about the possible disputes, material design resulted (in some way) from a rethinking of the popular today flat design, with its lightness, minimalism and the possibility of organizing the smooth operation of the interface. Although this is not only the work of a designer but the developer either.

Read alsoMobile app UX Design for startups

So imperceptibly we introduce in this dispute developers who also need to learn the rules and techniques that regulates by Google in his guideline. To make a perfect material in your application, it is necessary not only to compose the elements, but also to come up with (or choose) the animation, which would allow a smooth transition from one activity to another. And do it more intuitive for users. The task is not easy at first, but the more experience and finished projects developer made, the organization of such approach takes less time and gives more benefits.

Flat or material design after all?

Flat or material design: the answer is - it depends, it is really the matter of choice. Flat design will appear more simplistic on the background of material, besides, all these animations are aimed more on user interaction with mobile devices, rather than with the site. While the material is ideal for smartphones and tablets, flat - is ideal for simple and light websites that require the fastest possible response and flash-like work. In addition, no one prohibits the use of these two approaches in a single product, if approach the work on the design more consciously and philosophically. Why do I personally think that is better to use flat design for websites? Most likely, you do not need to use a lot of animations, right? This means that they can be sacrificed in favor of faster loading, which often plays a decisive role in the use of defined resource.

What’s the Difference: Flat Design vs Material Design
4.73 based on 22 user ratings