Material? Flat? Creating Effective UI Design

Material Design

The latest Android update has bought in the new ‘Material Design’ style, with many of it’s apps updating alongside. Should we all follow suit in our designs?

The latest buzz word in design circles is of material design. The design and UI style, bought in by Google with their latest update, sets out a strong design ideology regarding composition and rules when building sites and apps. It has added great consistency across their many products, similar to the way Apple adopted flat design first through devices and apps through to their latest OS update.

There has been a response by many sites to this shift in design, with many logos, apps and sites quickly shifting to a minimal style recently. To match a users’ other apps and appear credible, you must join them or risk looking tired and outdated.

Dropbox logo

Dropbox made the shift to a minimal, flat look recently

We are entering an interesting new world where devices and their creators have a strong dictation over design philosophy for everyone. Designers often complain of the frustrating similarity of many layouts in modern websites, but when the design informs the UI to this level of detail you would need to go against user intuition in order to show originality.

So do we need to change? That is, should we keep a close eye on any system updates in case they set out new styles and rules then rapidly redesign to stay cool? There is certainly a need to stay current and aware of standard user expectations. But more significantly, the design should be set primarily by the needs of the users and the site’s aims.

How will users use your site? Which age groups and demographics are targeted, which devices and browsers are most commonly used. An essential aspect of design theory is in the balance between form and function, and these will depend of the particular use case of each individual site.

This is the philosophy set out when building data management applications at SSA. Find out more about our processes on our site or ask in the comments below.

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