Ask DN: Wunderlist gave in to the flat design. Does that mean we've accepted flat design as the new reality and not just a trend?

4 years ago from , Lead designer at Booking.com

Wunderlist always took pride in not following the trends in design and trying to be as timeless as they could. I've always loved their execution but lately it did start to look a little outdated. It never bothered me and I think would not bother most of the people using the platform. But they finally redesigned the web platform in the best rules of flat design. What do you think? Is flat here to stay? Did we officially accept it?


  • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

    One company was late to the party. This is not news.

    39 points
    • Polina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

      It was always interesting to me how they defended their point of view on this justifying it by not wanting to follow trends but creating long-lasting solutions. Was it always obvious for you that flat web was a big deal?

      1 point
      • Eli SchiffEli Schiff, 4 years ago

        Absolutely. It has a huge (mostly negative) impact. Most designers don't believe this to be the case and have and will continue to adopt it without question.

        5 points
        • Polina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

          I think that many designers adopt it with a lot of questions but also a lot of answers. Flat has it's advantages that overweigh the disadvantages in specific cases. Especially if you let the users decide.

          2 points
        • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, 4 years ago

          And to that end, most designers are decorators, but you've done a lot of writing about that.

          0 points
  • Timothy AchumbaTimothy Achumba, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

    Our industry evolves over time. As we become more familiar with technology and it becoming more integrated into our lives, the interfaces we are confronted with will have to change.

    Your right to say Wunderlist never make design decisions solely based on current trends. The decisions we make try to solve problems. The problems we are facing now are more centred around speed, accessibility and future proofing.


    Pen and paper are out biggest competitor because it so fast to grab a piece of paper to jot down ideas. We want to make Wunderlist as fast as possible. The new design allows us to render your to-do faster by removing the need to draw heavy and transparent elements on the web which slow things down. We're also able to develop faster, bringing updates and improvements to our users at speed.


    At Wunderlist our goal is to help as many people get stuff done. The new design allows us to improve our accessibility across the board. Wunderlist is now better for RTL languages, visually and psychically impaired people. Users now have the ability to choose the font size by zooming in. This wasn't possible previously.

    Future Proof

    We constantly thinking about the future of Wunderlist and now we can really, truly help people get stuff done. The redesign is paving the way for some really awesome features that are currently in the works. As we share more about this, things will continue to become clearer.

    Flat design, skeuomorphism aren't trends, they're design tools we can use to try and solve problems. Sometimes elements have to be more "real" to help people better understand your product. Sometimes we can strip everything away and really put the focus on content. The real question we should ask ourselves is when is the right time to use each one.


    23 points
    • Polina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

      I agree on many points. Working in a company that has millions of people using our products, it's about solving the problems on a grand scale that includes a lot of different types of people. So the question of which tool to use to solve that problem becomes an important part of actual solution.

      0 points
    • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, 4 years ago

      Flat design, skeuomorphism aren't trends, they're design tools we can use to try and solve problems.

      Agreed. If you think it's one-or-the-other and that they're both "just trends", you're part of the problem.

      2 points
  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, 4 years ago

    You know, we also officially accepted over-the-top "web 2.0" buttons for a decade and that didn't make them any less of a trend. Flat design is just an aesthetic style rather than being somehow connected to the underlying usability as many people say. Aesthetics evolve and morph and this will too.

    8 points
    • Polina RaevskayaPolina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

      That's a good point. The problem I see with this, however, is that flat design did affect the usability. For a long time people outside the industry did not understand it (at least in my surroundings) and it took a while. There is a lot of complaints and negativity attached to flat design based on it's lack of affordances and usability in general. So maybe it's not just a trend?

      0 points
      • Anthony MoralesAnthony Morales, 4 years ago

        I think we're seeing the beginning of Flat applied to apps. The performance gains, especially on mobile, has, maybe, pushed us here before our thinking around Flat & UI design has really matured. I expect we'll see new conventions around affordances and usability to emerge soon. I know I struggle with it in my own work.

        1 point
  • Yanis MarkinYanis Markin, 4 years ago

    If they wanted to be 'as timeless as they could' — they should've created timeless design from the very beginning. Instead they took a trend in 2011 and built their entire presence around wooden background and red ribbons.

    5 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, 4 years ago

    Flat design exists since the creation of ink.

    4 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, 4 years ago

    At the moment, Wunderlist looks and feels like a Frankenstein to me.

    I don't really care about skeumorphic design vs. flat.

    I'm more interested in a cohesive visual language.

    This redesign straddles the fence.

    Then there is that green...

    3 points
  • Axel WyartAxel Wyart, 4 years ago

    That may have something to do with the fact that they got acquired by Microsoft. Not sure about this though but since Microsoft tend to follow "flat design" too..

    IMO the previous version of the web platform looked better and I really hope they won't change the mobile app!

    2 points
    • Polina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

      I agree, the old version seemed perfectly fine to me. I do like the new one too though :)

      You might be on to something with the Microsoft. It was a little unexpected to see this new design.

      0 points
    • Matt CastilloMatt Castillo, 4 years ago

      Totally agree. This looks exactly like a Microsoft app.

      0 points
  • Tyrale BloomfieldTyrale Bloomfield, 4 years ago

    It's all a trend. If you compare what we are going here in the Western design to Eastern design we are following different trends.

    flat, material, clean, simple, whatever it will all be different in 10 years, and when technology allows for more, we will adjust.

    Who knows, with force touch and the other "pressure" sensitive hardware coming, we might see a new trend that focuses more on depth or planes?

    1 point
  • Nick Sloggett, 4 years ago

    Agree with @joel. One thing I kinda disagree with in that sentiment is, the usability is tied always tied to aesthetics in some fashion. In the former UI of Wunderlist whether web or native, there was a firm framing aspect based on depth where now we are left with http://d.pr/i/13jnp. Is it something that's a big deal, no I think it's an adjustment item more than anything. I will miss it though; I was always fond of the asthetics of elements like http://d.pr/i/15HWS

    1 point
  • Pasquale D'SilvaPasquale D'Silva, 4 years ago

    use your own brain.

    1 point
  • Gajus Kuizinas, 4 years ago

    For those who are not using the Wunderlist app, here are the screenshots of the flat design version:

    0 points
    • John PJohn P, 4 years ago (edited 4 years ago )

      Why the photos? How is an arbitrary photo an improvement on an arbitrary wooden background

      0 points
      • Dan DiGangiDan DiGangi, 4 years ago

        It's not necessarily better but with flat design losing its' overall depth, it helps break the elements up so they don't all just blend.

        (Wood would work all the same though but I understand them changing it)

        0 points
      • Brad McNallyBrad McNally, 4 years ago

        They have had various backgrounds (including this photo) for years. The wooden background image was just the default.

        0 points
      • Polina Raevskaya, 4 years ago

        Wood din't go away in the new design. It hasn't been the default background for a while. But you can select it.

        0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, 4 years ago

    To clarify the OP, Wunderlist just used "flat design" in their homepage, not on their app. The app looks cluttered as it ever was.

    0 points