Should diaspora* jump into the "flat trend" bandwagon?

It’s everywhere. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, even your good ol’ Hotmail and iOS have gone flat.

Advantages :

  • Minimalist : looks straightforward and “content first”
  • Readability : There’s less clutter and more contrast between the background and the text
  • Speed : Not depending on any image, it loads faster.

Disadvantages :

  • Originality : it feels bare-bones for some
  • Familiarity : it feels cold and unwelcoming for some

This is basically a philosophical question about Diaspora’s direction : should it become a minimalist emotion-less communication tool or a cozy social hub?

Note: This discussion was imported from Loomio. Click here to view the original discussion.

I would really like to see a new design. But if we do this, we should have a really big feature going along with it, like chat or groups. Why? Because redesigns are what the tech news and blogs want to see and talk about. If new features come with the new design it, diaspora could get more publicity.

I would really appreciate a fresh design for diaspora* . Being a bit more clean and eye-candy might attract new users as well. Probably it should go along with some usability changes as recent discussions seem to prove there is lot of space for clarification and improvement.

IMO bootstrap is a good start for a “fresh design”. Let’s port even more stuff in diaspora* to bootstrap and improve the usability when doing that.

(The single post view, the sign in / sign up page and the conversations have already been ported to bootstrap)

The actual design is pretty good and we have many work to do, so this is clearly not a priority, but as Steffen said, porting the view to bootstrap will update them.

I really like the current design of diaspora*. It’s very clean and easy to understand. Bootstrap is badly needed since the mobile view is unpleasant and doesn’t work with the size of most peoples fingers.

Diapsora has a lovely clean design. I wouldn’t object to other designs/views being created as options that a user could enable if they wanted, but I wouldn’t want the default design to be changed, especially for the sake of changing it or for the sake of doing what other websites are doing.

As Flaburgan says, there are far more important things to focus on at the moment.

I really wouldn’t have a problem with a cleaner look. Really, all you’d have to do is port Diaspora over to Bootstrap 3, which has a great clean, minimalistic design.

There’s definitely scope for cleaning up the right-hand column, although I’m not sure that’s what this proposal is about. And I’m planning to work on a new design for the default landing and sign-up pages.

@seantilleycommunit I also thought about porting to Bootstrap 3 but it looks like we would have to update rails_admin to 0.6.0 first which needs Rails 4. In the meantime porting to Bootstrap 2 seems to be a good idea. :wink:

@seantilleycommunit If Loomio is based on Bootstrap 3, then I love it.

@goob Good idea, I think it is best to tweak one thing at a time, but do it well. I personally think the Sign In page is Diaspora’s best design feat so far (even though it’s not really ‘flat’) The header should be the next thing. Especially on the pages in which the “Sign in” link has kept a HTML link look.

@gillesphilippemori Loomio is based on Bootstrap 2, Bootstrap 3 is even better :stuck_out_tongue:

You can allways create a skin:

I like diaspora design and I don’t like flat, is boring.

Flat sucks.

Since I hate fashion, I’m all for custom styles. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a trendy, attractive default one. Flat sucks, yes, but if it’s what’s needed to catch potential newcomers, why not? Hope it won’t linger for too long…

Custom Styles can be achieved with Stylish (like @albertoaru proposed). Maybe it’s even useful to show some ideas.

For me, flat design isn’t that attracting. We have to think about, wether it fits diaspora*. Is it in line with the message we want to send?

Otherwise we would have to follow everyyear’s trend. Not very useful. Especially with our constrained designer staff in mind.

But I’m for “Content First”. And I guess, this is doable without applying a flat design.

Especially on wide screens (you know, desktop PCs or working stations with a second screen) there’s lot of blank space :-S

I don’t understand what you mean by “flat” perhaps you could explain further or provide some links?

Flat Design on Wikipedia:

See also Gizmodo: and

Hi! I work as a visual and UX designer, please let me contribute with my point of view.

I think the way the question was formulated is pretty biased.

Flat design is a trend, as thin fonts right now, or just as any other trend (remember “Web 2.0 glossy buttons”), you can follow a trend and be unique, just don’t copy others.

As a trend, it can be emotion-less or not. What makes a design cozy? That’s a challenge for the designer to play with.

When you say “it feels cold/unwelcoming/barebones for some” I think you are expressing an opinion. A client recenly asked me to change their whole site to “flat” because the current one looked to “heavy”. That’s the way trends affect people.

Opinion is subjective and not so good for user experience. The real factual disadvantage of flat design is that it loses visual hierarchy: users sometimes don’t know what is clickable and what not, because a button ends up being just a colored square.

But that’s not even a problem of flat design, it was a problem of Windows Metro UI mostly (Windows 8), that went too far.

In art, all trends tend to go to far, and then step back a little, if they are real trends. Flat is a real trend, glossy buttons not so much. What makes flat a trend is that it has a backing philosophy: content first.

So, flat was good in introducing that concept. That’s it’s contribution to the design world.

In order to have an updated look, you have to follow trends a little.

I would go with something more modern, cleaner, but not-so-flat. I like to have some volume in my buttons.

Current design looks a little old, I have to say, that’s just the way things are in this crazy web era, 2 years old is old. 4 years is ancient history.

I think the problem with the current design is not cleanliness, it’s that it should be more solid, consistent, and that should be achieved with consistent margins, paddings, font sizes, borders. Bootstrap will provide a better foundation for that.

I think the next challenge will be to come up with a design that looks more modern, but unique, rock-solid and appealing to new users. Any designer can log in into the site and immediately notice that it needs a more solid visual language. I think that’s the next challenge, flat or not.