Google Design held a panel last night at General Assembly to talk about Material Design, their newest design framework for Android. The panelists included Mark Shuster, Senior Product Designer at Buzzfeed, Eli Weiss, Chief Mobile Strategist at B&H, Kevin Grant, Android Engineer at Tumblr, and Amber Bravo (the host) who is an Editor at Google.
Top tips and quotes from the panel
What tips do you have for people wanting to use the Material Design spec?
- You don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every user interaction.
- Your architecture limits you to the animations you want to do, so start building it based on the latest release as your base to stay ahead of the curve else it could take 3+ years to incorporate.
- Transitions framework has been the most transformative aspect of what Material Design has to offer.
- If you want to deviate, it’s not a one time thing. You have to keep revisiting the custom components and ask “does it still look good?” Decisions have to continuously evolve to stay fresh.
- Use the spec to make your life easier!
- Just because there is a floating button library, doesn’t mean you have to use it. It’s not just enough to be following the guidelines because there will be 5 or 10 other apps doing the same thing.
- If you’ve grabbed the users in the first half of the screen, users won’t be as afraid of scrolling as they used to be.
What were some surprises when you integrated Material Design?
- The reaction from users was very positive. Android users are passionate about Android so if they see your app using the Android features, they get a strong brand connection.
- Learning that people will be more forgiving with bugs in mobile web vs bugs in native apps. Having a mobile web app has less personal commitment from the user, while native apps require more personal investment to interact with, so users are less forgiving if their native apps are buggy.
- How many people try to use Material Design as an argument to rebuild an app, which is not necessarily the right way to go.
What are some tools you are using for Design and Prototyping?
- Invision, Origami, Sketch, Photoshop to name a few…
What are some struggles you dealt with?
- B&H released their app without updating the icon and 2 hours later people were pointing out that the app was updated but not the icon. Lesson learned!
- A struggle for Buzzfeed to make sure not to lose the company brand when using Material Design, but they tailored it to their brand by building their own typography and using the brand colors.
- The more customization you do, the more maintenance it needs. This can turn into a resource battle.
What has been the biggest challenge for your team?
- Getting buy-in! Making your case. Find other apps doing it, look at user feedback from the Google Play store. Get support behind you in order to start.
- One challenge is that it may be hard to figure out what are good key metrics. Encourage everyone out there to integrate some user feedback loop.
- Animations in material design are more important than you think. Measure your success as you go along. Some important metrics are: screens per session, shares per session, and uninstalled rate.
- Don’t rebuild your application. Animations are so important and very difficult to incorporate.
Do you incorporate Material Design in one go or do it feature-by-feature?
- For Tumblr, it’s a feature at a time. Take that one piece on its own and focus on getting that up. You can do piecemeal at a time. If your design is pretty far behind, when you update a few pieces at a time it won’t detract from you experience.
- One can change looks easily and then tackle functionality piece by piece.
Google Design just released a more web-focused toolset to make your website get the Material Design look and feel called Material Design Lite. Even though there is a big split between iOS and Android users, the option of incorporating pieces of Material Design into a website allows developers and designers to enhance their interface and can be seen as the
logical next step to creating a beautiful, seamless user experience throughout the digital mediums.
Thanks again to Google Design, Buzzfeed, B&H, and Tumblr for putting on the panel!