Message Now is an interesting project being that it presented a monumental design challenge. The client wanted a look and feel that was much more dimensional and impactful than “all of that Flat Shit” out there, as their VP of marketing put it. Their staff gravitated toward the look and feel of the original iPhone. You remember…the vibrant candy coated icons that, as Steve Jobs put it, “you just want to lick”.
At our office we call this dynamic design. Plenty of drop shadows, gradients, textures, bevels and embossing create a look that appears to pop out of the screen. It’s more engaging, more fun to interact with and much more memorable of an experience but very (VERY) time consuming to produce. This is because the various elements need to be layered with a ton of different design components to achieve the ideal consistency and balance throughout the entire user experience. In other words, a button isn’t just a flat rectangle with some text in it that turns a different color upon hover – it’s a multilayered design element with several state changes supported by fluid transitions that altogether takes a whopping 10 times more time to create than your average flat button.
Understand that dynamic design is a superb way to go if done right but too much of the 3D look can really screw things up and confuse people or just come off as tacky. Notice how we balanced this design by mixing in flat components and buttons to balance the aesthetic experience so the user isn’t overwhelmed.