Yet it shouldn't be too hard to notice a 20 % slowdown with small usability tests/focus groups. It could be interesting to test a couple existing skins and a couple big interface changes in the works (such as Special:RecentChanges and Special:Search) to see if there is any such big gap anywhere.

For the case of Recent Changes a before/after comparison does not seem to suggest that the changes involved going flat. In the previous state the filtering UI was a box with a flat lists of links and text, while the new UI uses contrast and grouping to help users identify the different elements. 

If there is any particular aspect related to flatness that anyone thinks we need to pay special attention to, feel free to share it and we can incorporate it in future research. We have been doing different rounds of research to test initial conceptsiterated ideas and the version available on beta. The results suggest that users are able to identify more clearly which is the current state of the filters and how to manipulate them with the new approach.

In general, I think that labels such as "flat design" combine several different aspects that makes it hard to make broad statements like flat design being good or bad for all contexts. Talking about the impact on choices for the clarity of affordances, contrast of elements, layout approaches, etc. makes more sense to me. For example, the Nielsen/Norman article criticizes both skeumorphism (for resulting in "clunky interfaces") and flat design (for the loss of clickability signifiers), but recommends what they call "flat design 2.0" for incorporating signifiers based on our intuition of phisics as Google's material does:

Early pseudo-3D GUIs and Steve-Jobs-esque skeuomorphism often produced heavy, clunky interfaces. Scaling back from those excesses is good for usability. But removing visual distinctions to produce fully flat designs with no signifiers can be an equally bad extreme. Flat 2.0 provides an opportunity for compromise — visual simplicity without sacrificing signifiers.

On Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 4:58 PM, Saint Johann <> wrote:
In all fairness, I hope we wouldn’t. OOUI has so much more elements that have no alternative in Apex theme, even accessible checkboxes are not present in Apex (see Retiring Apex, not reinstating it, seems like the best solution at this point, since Wikimedia developers and designers have a pretty average track record when it comes to consistent development of alternative solutions (e. g., current skins).

The research itself is a bit misleading and sensationalising: it doesn’t compare stylistic elements of flat design and skeuomorphism, it essentially compares bad design practices (bad styling of CTA/primary button, styling tabs like some kind of buttons, styling links like text) and good practices. It should not be taken at word, although usually Nielsen Norman Group have good points in their studies.

On 06/09/2017 13:22, Bartosz Dziewoński wrote:
OOUI was originally created with a classic design for buttons and other fields, and that theme (now called 'Apex') is still available and maintained. We could switch to it at a moment's notice. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing it again ;)

Still, buttons in the default theme are not entirely "flat", they have at least borders (or strong backgrounds) to distinguish them. The biggest problem is the existence of 'frameless' buttons (in both themes), which look just like normal text if they don't have an icon or something.

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Pau Giner
Senior User Experience Designer
Wikimedia Foundation