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Ask DN: Should Material Design be Android/Google-Only?

5 years ago from , Founder at Made by Current, Inc.

After reading some articles on DN, I've noticed that there is a big focus on adapting CSS frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation (haven't seen one for Foundation yet, but I assume one is in the works) to look like Google's Material Design. For some reason, this bothers me.

Whenever I see a new implementation of Material Design for the browser, it just doesn't seem right. It seems out of place, like it doesn't belong on a website. I'm wondering if I'm the only one with this opinion.

From my understanding, Material Design was created for the same purpose that Apple's Design Standards for iOS were created. People don't create web applications that follow the iOS design standards, so why should they create applications that follow the Android Standards? It just seems like we're trying to use the design standard to create products for platforms the standard wasn't intended for, and it seems out of place.

I fear that with the adoption of Material Design for web applications, all of our web applications are going to look like it and the originality of sites is going to be ruined. Don't get me wrong, Material Design looks very nice on Android. I just don't want too much of a good thing.

What does everyone else think?

16 comments

  • Constantin BuricConstantin Buric, 5 years ago

    I personally never liked MD for desktop usage. Looks good on mobile apps. I'll give it that.

    5 points
  • Hana KimHana Kim, 5 years ago

    I think Material Design seems to be more than about how it looks.

    To me, the basic idea is something that takes a relatively flat visual look-and-feel, and combines it with animations/transitions that seem skeuomorphic.

    Just like anything else, this sounds like the classic case where you steal whatever good ideas from their toolkit that you find is relevant to your current design, whether it be web/android/iOS.

    4 points
    • Samuel Marks, 5 years ago

      I agree. However, I don't agree with the frameworks that are copying the entire design of it and adapting it for use on websites, but I do agree with taking certain elements (especially the animations and fluid transitions).

      I think our use of Material Design on projects not related to Android should definitely be pick and choose.

      0 points
  • Giulio MichelonGiulio Michelon, 5 years ago

    I hate MD on iOS, just this. It feels very clunky and hard to understand to me.

    2 points
  • Asher SimondsAsher Simonds, 5 years ago

    I think part of Google's plan for MD on the web was oriented towards getting Chrome apps to become more consistent and "app-like," which helps Chrome OS and Android pair up better. This is especially important now that Google is starting to bring Android apps to Chromebooks.

    2 points
    • Samuel Marks, 5 years ago

      Well in that case, wouldn't the applications running on Chrome OS be basically Android apps? Or would they be separate web apps?

      0 points
      • Ewen McCahonEwen McCahon, 5 years ago

        I'm pretty sure they're working on running android apps on ChromeOS anyway, so having some of the more popular Chrome store apps blend well with the hybrid/native ones would be a clear step in that direction.

        0 points
      • James WilliamsJames Williams, 5 years ago

        Apps running on ChromeOS would largely be web apps with extra bits (like Service Worker) to enable them to be more app-like.

        There was a talk at the Chrome Dev Summit last week about "Making Web Apps Appy." The video should be on YT.

        0 points
  • Danny Zabolotny, 5 years ago

    The animations of Material Design are a bit excessive for web use, but other than that it's not the worst. I don't think it belongs in iOS though. MD looks childish and wrong on iOS in my opinion. Google should respect the iOS 7/8 design guidelines when designing their iOS apps

    1 point
  • James WilliamsJames Williams, 5 years ago (edited 5 years ago )

    It's a cross-platform standard. Android is one of the main target areas but it is mean for the web too.

    The Polymer Project is has a web implementation of Material Design in its "paper" widgets. At Google I/O, I heard some anecdotal stories about Android devs using Polymer to prototype widgets and effects they wanted to do on Android.

    "People don't create web applications that follow the iOS design standards, so why should they create applications that follow the Android Standards? "

    Thankfully it wasn't too often but I have seen a lot of web sites/web apps in the past that used a OSX or iOS theme. 280 Slides/Cappuccino was hailed for its design and it was pure OSX.

    As we are moving towards web apps that can like outside the browser and perform like a desktop app, I think there is room for MD to provide a unified experience. With the next flatness in iOS7, it doesn't feel so out of place to me.

    1 point
  • Evan DinsmoreEvan Dinsmore, 5 years ago

    In my opinion, Material looks and works great on Android. It also makes sense for Chrome OS, and for Google's own web properties. I'm not a fan of other web apps using it, since there's so much more flexibility on the web and it doesn't have the same expectation of common design patterns that native mobile OSes do, so there's more room for originality beyond Material. Finally, I don't think Material has any place on iOS. Google's apps look out of place, like Android apps directly ported over with no consideration for the HIG. I'm hoping that we won't start seeing an influx of iOS apps using floating action buttons, and more Android-y patterns because of this.

    1 point
    • James WilliamsJames Williams, 5 years ago

      I can understand the reason Google did it but I think there are a lot of guilty parties who decide to port their apps from one platform to the other, mostly from iOS to Android, without thinking about the UX on the target one.

      0 points
      • Evan DinsmoreEvan Dinsmore, 5 years ago

        Yep, but it shouldn't be encouraged. Especially since it goes both ways. I don't think Google wants a bunch of iOS ports with tab bars and centered titles on Android, so why encourage the same practice on iOS?

        0 points
  • Darth BaneDarth Bane, 5 years ago

    Firstly, "material design" is still just high-level borderline philosophical ideas on design. There are no guidelines, and Google themselves aren't even consistent in their use of these ideas (yet). If two designers are implementing "material design" today, you'll probably get two very different results.

    Secondly, the ideas behind "material design" existed long before Google put a name on it. I've been using some of the techniques for at least a few years. It's nothing new. I've used it in various degrees on websites and apps before Google attempted to claim ownership of it. In fact, we probably all have. I remember seeing similar approaches on Dribbble around 2011-2012.

    To answer your question: using "material design" on a website is absolutely fine, if done properly (like all design approaches). It doesn't mean the site should look like Android. I've just finished a website using Roboto Draft and using some elements of Google's definition of "material design", and it doesn't look like an Android bastard at all.

    1 point
  • Larry R, almost 4 years ago

    The site we are using right now is a perfect example... Just got a new phone..Lollipop5.1.1. Horrible Google based MD phone app. Bad news? Google will not allow you to change it! So, I am stuck, even after hitting 'call' in my much more aesthetically pleasing dialer, with those horrid orange,teal and brazen Blue panels. Ughhhh. The site we are using right now is a perfect example... MD on the Web... No.No..No..! Any layout with an absence of creativity and individuality is Materially a Boring design........... All sites look the same! Creating a Brand/Image is not compatible with that horrible MD.. Duarte is... Well... Not very ... It's actually insulting to anyone who has been in the advertising.marketing industry. Yes, I owned an advertising agency. Creating a great ad meant creating a memorable image... Not with MD. Our lives are being contained in brazenly colored flat rectangles... No corporate identity with that.

    0 points
  • Michael Scott, over 1 year ago

    I agree with the original poster 100%. MD is great for Google's desktop and mobile ecosystems, but if you use MD to build a desktop site, it's going to look like a site designed by Google.

    Design systems are great, but the iOS HIG and MD don't really work outside of Apple or Google.

    0 points