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Why Material Design?

I am a designer who started with user interface designs back in 2006. Since then, things have changed a lot. The concept of UI and icons went through a paradigm shift. The fancy 3D styled Icons with a realistic, high detailed touch, born from the rich graphic nature of the realistic style is a passé now. It seems the world has gone flat. The mainstream OS like Windows, iOS, and Android, all seems to sport a flat new style with subtle differences. Some are edgy and some are sleek, some are thick and others are thin. But all seem to agree to the basic idea and sport somewhat similar skins while keeping up to the trend.

Google seems to understand this paradigm shift and came up with a comprehensive design document, better known as Material Design. With the release of Android Lollipop, Google’s Material Design language has begun making its first appearances. Designers and technologists everywhere are aflutter with praise for the new design language, which aspires to unite Google’s expansive product line under a rich set of design styles and principles. They took the best of everything in user interface design and made a robust style guide. With the shadow effects and animated panels once introduced in Windows Vista ( using WPF) to flat icons and color schemes. The visual details that Google came up with are delightful, and the paradigmatic underpinnings — that interfaces are three-dimensional constructions, composed of layers of “physical” components — are refreshingly novel.

Now, Material Design offers a consistent flow of how a user interface should feel and behave. The design principles seem to use the law of gravity while defining each component’s behavior in relation to its distance from the ground (screen). With more and more apps and websites following the same design principles, we can expect the users en masse to get this behaviour deeply embedded in their brain and understand the working of a user interface almost instantly after the very first click.

I believe this is a great innovation and the boon goes to the users than for the designers who create it. If all apps start behave the same way, more or less using the same design principles, I think it will soon remove the “Help!” concept from the main screens showing how to navigate. The user interactions will be rather governed by the motor nerve cells rather than thoughts or help manuals.

Let us all, design our apps following the same design principles which Google has created and see what comes next. The material design depends on more and more collective works following the same basic principles to succeed. With millions of apps and web interactions coming under its fold, we can expect an evolutionary change about how things should interact. Let’s use our creativity to take these design principles a step further and try using the same beyond regular devices and for all the internet of things.

Creativity is not about reinventing but using what is invented in the smartest of ways.