Why You Should Use Material Design for Your Next Project
Material Design is a design language created by Google, where design elements and the overall experience mimic real-world objects.
Developers created this design language intending to deliver high-quality output consistently across all platforms.
You’re probably already familiar with Material Design if you’ve used Google apps before. In this article, we shall be exploring some pros and cons of using it.
Why should you use Material Design for Your Next Project?
Material Design offers a clean and intuitive interface for users. The design elements and the animations are fine-tuned to give the best possible user experience.
It is a comprehensive design system that has guidelines for almost every design situation.
But more than anything else, the most crucial reason you should be using Material Design is that it is an incredibly popular visual language.
Let’s say your app has been designed by following Material Design guidelines. Users find a sense of familiarity when they come across your app because they visually associate it with Google.
There’s a level of trust associated with your app just because of how it looks.
But if that’s not a convincing enough reason for you, let’s quickly take a look at some of the pros and cons of using the language.
Advantages of Using Material Design
There are many advantages of using Material Design. Rather than a set of guidelines, it is an entire ecosystem.
What that means is, Material Design has a comprehensive list of rules that designers can use to approach almost every potential design situation.
This is one of the top advantages.
It can be applied to even complex and rare use cases that are probably overlooked by other design systems. However, this also comes with a disadvantage that we shall discuss later on.
Another advantage is the fact that there is extensive documentation available. Users can use the documentation to learn how to use and implement Material Design on their projects.
A lot of other design systems do not come with documentation that is this extensive.
Even though Material Design is comprehensive and can cover almost all use cases, it is still a flexible design library. Designers have the freedom to choose how they want to implement the design.
Material Design also has skeuomorphism which differentiates it from flat design and makes it more intuitive for users.
Skeuomorphism is used to describe user interface objects that visually mimic real-life counterparts and how they behave when a user interacts with them.
Everything from haptic feedback to the animations makes user interaction feel more intuitive.
It was created on a mobile-first sensibility, and hence it promotes animations in designs. All of this gives an overall better experience for the user.
Material Design is also available in a dark theme, which gives even more flexibility to designers who want a dark-themed app.
There are also tons of material design templates available online that you can use to create potent web applications.
These templates are easy to set up and will save you a ton of time and money.
Disadvantages of Using Material Design
All of the points mentioned above sound great, but there are some disadvantages.
Some of these may not be classified as a disadvantage per se, but we’re still going to look at some of the cons that designers have experienced while using this design system.
First and foremost. Material Design has the same curse that Bootstrap suffers.
Just like how websites built with Bootstrap look familiar, anything designed with Material Design can be instantly identified and associated with Google and Android.
If you think about it, this also has the disadvantage of hampering your branding. Designers can add logos and change colour palettes to align with their branding needs, but the final design still has a “Google” feel.
Another disadvantage has got to do with animations in your design. If you do not incorporate animations into your design, the finished product may feel unfinished.
On the other hand, having too much animation can be resource-heavy, especially for mobile devices. This can result in slower loading times, higher data usage and negatively affect battery life.
Material Design is also more complicated to implement when compared with other design systems like flat design.
Since it is a deeply thought out design system and is comprehensive, it is also more complicated. There are so many more things you need to consider when using it.
Designers may also feel constrained when working with Material Design and might experience a lack of creativity. Many designers have expressed that it stifles innovation.
When working with Material Designs, it has been observed that many designers don’t take new approaches or think outside the box.
Another disadvantage is sometimes referred to as “mystery meat”. These are icons in their guidelines that are incredibly hard to understand.
Users often have to interact with the buttons to know what they do. Sometimes you can use the same icons for entirely different reasons in 2 different products, which adds to the confusion.
We can find a simple example of this in Android phones.
At a point, Google replaced the home icon on the navigation bar with a circle. The back button, which used to be a curved arrow, was replaced with a triangle.
You get the idea. This is an example of placing form over function, and this issue is prevalent in many products that use Material Design.
The pencil Icon used in Gmail means “compose”, while it might mean “edit” in another application. Users have to interact with the button to know what it does.
So, should you choose Material Design or not?
If the app is built mainly for Android devices, the answer is a no-brainer, Material Design is a good choice.
Your app will feel like a native Google app, and users will have a sense of familiarity (and trust!) while using your app. Even if it isn’t for Android, there are many use cases where it could work.
In the end, it’s a personal choice a designer should make, but you can’t go wrong.
Familiarise yourself with the guidelines, learn how to provide the best user experience with Material Design, and voila! You’ve got an amazingly designed product on your hands.