Google’s software design is having a reformation

Duarte, along with seven other designers at Google, was speaking to about a dozen reporters about what’s next for Material Design, Google’s system for creating software design. Maybe it’s the (lapsed) Lutheran in me, but calling the original Material Design a “gospel” struck a chord. It was religiously adhered to by the Android faithful ever since it launched. Apps that followed Material Design were holy; apps that didn’t were anathema. I can’t count the number of times I saw an app get dismissed by the Android community because it wasn’t updated for Material Design.

And to extend the metaphor (yes, please grant me an indulgence on this), it was also a very restrictive doctrine. The tools it offered helped make many Android apps feel consistent, but it also stripped away too much differentiation between them. They all ended up feeling the same. More importantly, many app makers didn’t want to give up their brand to Material Design. It made too many apps look and feel identical.

Simply put, people were being too dogmatic about how Material Design apps should look.

I have a long posting history at OSNews talking about how I value consistency in GUI design, because the more consistent my UI, the less I have to think about using said UI. To me, the strictness of Material Design is a feature, not a bug – and seeing its designers consider it the other way around has me shaking my head. I don’t give a rat’s butt about “brands” and “differentiation” – I just want to use my damn software with as little effort as possible.

Less auteur app design, more standard controls and views.

I’ve been using an iPhone X since it came out, and the utter lack of consistency between iOS applications remains a stumbling block to me to this day. It’d be a shame if Material Design went down the same dark path.


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