Key Principles of Google Material Design

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Until five years ago, people had to get used to the distracting means in which the look, layout and controls of any Google product interface changed according to the device a person used. For example, when a person logged in to their Gmail account on their tablet, smart phones, desktop, television or laptop, the layout of the page had variations, depending on the device used to log in.

Material Design by Google has come up with an intelligent design solution for consistent user experience when navigating through any interface irrespective of the device or screen size used.

The new approach of cross-product, cross-platform design uses tangible surfaces, bold graphic design, and meaningful motion to help define the way software should behave. It provides design guidelines for Android and other web developers and follows an objective approach to the design adoption choices. Besides Android projects, these days designers have started integrating into web-projects too.

Google strives to use the classic design principles with latest developments in science and technology to provide the users with a unified experience of an interface.

Material Design is based on the physical reality of paper and ink and incorporates the concepts of space and motion for an imaginatively progressive technology. However, it leads to an environment where affordances supersede those in the physical world without compromising on the basic scientific facts. It takes into consideration the fundamental concepts of light, surface and movement to achieve the actuality.

How it works

The goal of material design is to offer consistent experience to users without confusing them with a new interface while switching devices.

Material Design borrows from the elements of print design in order to implement consistency across different platforms as well as screen sizes. The physical attributes of paper are rendered in the digital medium so that an application can mimic and change shapes and sizes just like paper. Material is that part of the digital surface that contains the application, and those content that are outside the application are not treated as material.

Material design ensures easy portability to different digital platforms by emphasizing on user-initiated motion and touch response. When an element is touched with the finger, a digital magnetic reaction is created and there is smooth transition between the touch ripples and the magnetic reaction rather than two separate images.

A principle of graphic design that is omnipresent in Android as well as material design is its dependence to the grid system that aligns to an 8dp grid generating visual uniformity across different applications. Further, the standard key line for phones can be customized to accommodate specific app requirements.

Principles behind Material Design

The principle idea of Material Design is to make real world design using bold, graphic, and intentional design elements. Let us understand the four key principles that Material Design is based on:

Tactile surface or quantum paper: Material Design interface is made up of tangible layers that are called “digital or quantum paper” which are stacked and arranged at varying heights and in the process casts shadow on each other’s surface. The surface is a “container” that casts a shadow and enables to distinguish one object from another and the way they are positioned in relation to each other.

Print design: If it is assumed that the layers are sheets of “digital paper”, in that case “digital ink” will be that which is exhibited on the layers in a process that reminds of the traditional approach used in graphic design.

Meaningful animations: In our day to day transaction, we do not see things coming out of thin air and then vanishing into it. Similarly, it becomes imperative that Material Design language constantly contemplate on the use of “realistic” animation of the layers and “digital ink” and avoid abrupt stops to maintain the feel of reality.

Adaptive design: It allows tactile surface, print design and meaningful animations to be brought together to apply them onto different devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions. The trick lies in sizing the information in relation to the screen size, that is, the smaller the screen the lesser will be the information and bigger the screen, more  information will be provided.

Google’s Material Design stands by the idea of neat and simple designs. It applies motion that understands and highlights the user as the prime force and all action takes place in a lone environment where there is no break of continuity of experience.

By using the above elements and minimum design tools a good material design can be in place for smooth transition when using the app or site right from the point the user left off.

Material Design is all about paying attention to details and the touch of a little realism to express the foremost functionality and purpose of the interface that is being designed. To know more about Suyati’s expertise, please write to

Author : Letterbug Date : 12 May 2016