Yesterday, Google announced the release of Android 5.0, which they call Lollipop. While the mobile operating system brings a wealth of new features to the platform, it also marks the first major rollout of Google’s new design language.
First unveiled at the search giant’s developer conference, “material design” is their solution to the evolving internet landscape, one increasingly dominated by mobile devices. The design principles have existed for months, but this Android release will be the first time most consumers see it in practice.
What Is Material Design
Material design was made so that designers could build attractive content that would seamlessly transition between screen sizes and operating systems. Google details specific best practices at design.google, but there are three essential features of the design language:
- Material as a metaphor Google drew inspiration for material design from traditional print media and how layers of paper and the ink on them could overlap to create a cohesive visual look. Instead of relying on any false realism, known as “skeuomorphism,” they built a completely digital language around the idea of having content layered, like pages on a table.
- Bold, graphic, and Intentional Instead of gradients and subtle transitions, the language relies on contrasting colors and using color to create hierarchy and focus.
- Motion gives meaning By using meaningful transitions in your design, you can create an interactive experience for your customers without worrying that it will distract them from your content.
Most importantly, material design is a mobile first perspective. While the content will transition well to desktop screens, it signifies that Google considers future user interaction to come primarily from touch screen/mobile interfaces.
Mobile eCommerce Optimization
Material design is bold and the search giant’s own products look fantastic when they’re updated to it, but what about ecommerce sites? While every aspect of the language may not transition well into a retail site environment, there are several compelling reasons to consider it the next time you decide to give your storefront a facelift.
One of the core design features is the idea that you’re building one page for multiple devices. Instead of a trying to display the content differently on different screens, the language encourages adaptive designs. This can potentially save your webmasters hours of coding time and you won’t have to update your mobile display every time Apple released a new iPhone.
The bold colors and focus on typography can create an attractive experience for your customers, one that allows you to clearly display content without risking your users becoming overwhelmed by additional information.
Finally, the language prioritizes fast, fluid designs. The bold, attractive color schemes allow you to optimize your website for speed while still providing a rich, interactive environment for visitors.
The Future Is Mobile
Google is fully committing to a mobile first environment. In fact, their research data already shows that up to 75% of holiday shoppers plan to use their mobile devices while hunting for the perfect gift. Smartphones are more affordable than ever, so this number should only increase with every passing season.
Material design gives your webmasters a set of best practices for building an attractive, adaptive design. More importantly, it will help create a pleasant experience for your customers, no matter what device they’re browsing from.