The Elephant In The Room
So April brought the brand new Material Design 2.0 and the death, sudden death with no warning of Material Design 1.0. Designers around the world in flight with their Android App Design projects were stunned with no warning and no way to revert and reference Material Design 1.0. Millions of dollars were spent to build Android Style Guides according to 1.0 and now have very little refuge to reference the core, Material 1.0. Can I also take a moment here to talk about why Google would talk about having faster servers at the I/O but launch Material 2.0 and over a month later every page, even at my 500Mbps speed, is loading like we’re stuck in the 90’s on dial up?? This has to be an embarrassment for Google. Every other new thing they launch, example Gmail, there’s always a way to revert back. Why wouldn’t they follow this ‘pattern’ for Material? Oh and don’t get me started on them being Google and yet every search within google and material for weeks had dead/bad links… WHAT IS GOING ON!!!???
Below I’m going to call out the primary things that have been removed, added and changed. I won’t go through everything but will hit most of it even if it’s just a call out.
What’s Been Removed
I’ll keep this short but there are some huge impacts here to designers trying to design the best Android/Material Apps for their users.
Vanished, they are gone, I say this was a good call as I’ve never seen it used and have no idea why anyone would need to use this. That being said a lot of corporate business persons that do not understand design but think more logical and also think more in terms of bringing web over to apps so that it “looks the same” everywhere, as though users are checking all platforms and devices and comparing them LOL HAHA. But I digress, so I think this was a simple thing that won’t be a huge deal. Also a HUGE removal that I hope will come back is
Google WHY? Why would you remove Patterns. This is essential to any guide and designers so that things stay consistent across your app regardless if it’s Android or iOS or Web. You need Patterns for all 3. So this was a huge shock and extremely odd decision. Let’s see, what else is gone…
Yes the famous Date picker and Time picker that have been around since possibly back to Android OS 1. iOS has been using spinners since iPhone 1 basically and Android has been using a custom dialog popup called pickers that worked great for most situations. So there are some mentions of this now in Text Fields Components and in Dialog Components, but nothing solid. There is a full-page option shown in an animation video but no real guidelines around when and when not to use this. If you are going to remove a component that is used a lot in various apps, including your own (aka Calendar), why not offer an alternative? Swing and miss… People from Booking sites, to banks, to just about anyone that uses dates and times, need a visual element to display to the user an easy consistent way to select dates and times.
What’s Been Added
So I’ll dive into a lot of this more in depth in other post, but wanted to call these out here so in one post you can see what’s been removed and what’s new. There is some great new stuff and options for designers to help their users and stay consistent with mental models and learned behaviors.
Net New (Brand New Additions)
- Side Sheets
- Bottom Drawer
- Top App Bar (now a component)
- Bottom App Bar
- Image Lists
Not Net New but Changed Enough To Mention
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Beautiful
Here I’ll summarize what I like and what I don’t and why.
The Good The Beautiful
There is some really great new stuff in Material 2.0. Buttons are much better defined and give designers a lot more options that work better with ADA across light and dark themes. I do not understand why they had to change the names (design language) because it will cause a learning curve and some confusion as people switch over but the buttons are better with better guidelines. Last but not least, now buttons can have icons. I’m on the fence about this but again, I like designers having options, so we’ll see how they are used both by Google apps and by designers. The addition of the bottom drawer and bottom app bar, I think, offers some really cool options for me as a designer to help my user access things faster and easier when it makes sense in context of the design and goal of that design for the user. I do see an obvious dilemma for those using a bottom navigation, so use common sense and think through your entire flow before using any components. Side sheets, I love when designers have options, although I haven’t dug into this yet, I can see where this could be used and beneficial to the user especially for business/corporate apps where they try to shove everything in the kitchen sink into one app.
Beyond listing out components, there is some really good new guidelines that makes it clearer not only for designers and devs but also to prove things out to the business on why you designed things a certain way and why you shouldn’t do things they might be asking for. This is a huge win for the user. Anytime we have better guidelines, designs become more consistent and especially, again, across huge apps this is a HUGE win for the user. Some business have over 100 designers working on their Mobile apps for different segments and usually these designers are in various regions and never really meet. For them to all design in a way the user doesn’t feel that, guidelines and common core or/and digital design language systems are a must.
Theming is something new to Material 2.0 and along with that comes a new Sketch Plugin which is really well done and I really like this part of 2.0. It really helps designers design and communicate their design more effectively. I’m looking forward to how this evolves with InVision Studio and even Principle, etc… I think this a really well thought out and beautiful addition to Material Design.
The Bad The Ugly
So I already mentioned this above, and you might see that I’m in a love hate relationship now with Google and Material Design haha, but we have to talk about LANGUAGE and how important it is for communicating across designers, designers to development and back as well as to the business and changing language is never a good idea unless it really drastically improves things. So Google made the BOLD and STUPID decision to change the name of their buttons. UNNECESSARILY!! So not only designers around the world that communicate, but designers within your local teams and of course the always difficult position of communicating to your development team just got harder because for no apparent reason, the buttons in Material are called completely new things. So instead of Raised Buttons which we’ve known since Material 1.0 launch over 4 years ago, so we now have Contained Button (previously Raised) which is no longer using ‘Material’ which included elevations and is flat, which again makes no sense and I do love the new buttons but am questioning some of the decision around them. Flat buttons are now Text buttons (previously Flat). We have the new Outlined Button and of course Toggle which is only used in more web/tablet designs, not small glass. Ok Ok, I’m done with this soap box lol for now 😉
Worse than making designers, business, developers and everyone in between to learn a new language is the removal of Patterns. HUGE HUGE MISTAKE and HUGE STUPID ERROR!! Everyone knows from UXD and UXA and heck just basic Design 101 from the beginning of design, you need patterns if you care about your users at all. Maybe a small project with one or two designers you can still build out a consistent experience without patterns but it’s impossible in a large company where you constantly have to make your case for design decisions and design thinking and keep things across multiple departments, designers, developers, sometimes even global…consistent. What the heck was Google thinking? Did they really just completely miss this or is it still coming or are they really arrogant enough to think that they can change this? I just don’t know… I’m at a loss…