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What Is Material Design?

Published on:

Monday, October 24, 2022

It doesn’t matter what sector or industry your business operates in – when it comes to marketing and selling your products to customers, you need a user-friendly website and online experience to match.

Material Design is the term which is used to describe the industry standard for designing and creating websites, apps, and online experiences – with the intention being to streamline the design experience for businesses, and make sure that websites are on par with what Google (and the customers themselves) expect to see.

Reading this, you might think that Material Design is something purely for website designers to focus on – however, by understanding the principles, Material Design can and will become a part of your marketing strategy moving forward.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the concept of Material Design, what it means, and how it works in practice.

A guide to Material Design

Material Design, like so many business tools, was first conceived and introduced by Google. Developed in 2014, Material Design is a design-based system which units the basic principles of user-friendly design and communicates them in a way that can be followed by businesses and developers to ensure that the website offers a great experience.

In addition, Material Design uses and explores different terminology and design language to create a central system for developers to use and understand and focuses not only on websites but on mobile apps and how to create a cohesive experience across a multitude of platforms.

Material design is, to all intents and purposes, a guide that designers and developers can use to quickly and effectively builds responsive and user friendly apps and websites. Best of all, it considers the way that people interact with and use their devices as part of their everyday lives and implements design decisions that flow into and mimic the way that people use devices and apps.


Some examples of what working with Material Design does for the design process

A very visual example of Material Design at play is the inclusion of light shadows around pages on a screen – instantly making them jump off the page and feel like something that the user is physically interacting with. Though a very small and subtle addition to the overall display, this kind of attention to detail elevates the experience and provides meaning to the user – tapping into modern devices as a way of digitalising the real world.

Look at it this way. The devices that customers and consumers use are so ingrained with their everyday lives and activities, that without this attention to detail, the apps and online resources they use can feel unnatural and outdated.

Another example of Material Design at work can be seen in the way that screens respond to the touch of the user – with sliding movements mimicking the movement of the users finger in a realistic and responsive way. Rather than predicting the movement and simply jumping to the next page, material design has the screen and page respond in line with the exact movement of the user, creating an intrinsic link between real life actions and the on-screen response.

And then we have the renewed focus on user interface elements and components as detailed in material design – considering everything from colour palettes to font, sounds, iconography, and layout. Through Material Design, all of these elements were given a new lease of life, mimicking bolder finishes and more intuitive reactions to user movement and activity.

The user experience is deeply ingrained in Material Design – so much so that every part of the design process through Material Design actively considers the experience of the user and how they will respond to individual components on the page.

How designers use Material Design

Where design systems once created templates that businesses and developers could copy, Material Design enables developers to create fully branded systems through which every aspect of a brand’s digital footprint can be stored and accessed as required and when developing new touch points.

In 2018, the release of Material Design 2.0 created new templates for businesses to use – with a greater focus on the design elements of what is considered to be an effective modern website. White space, colourful icons, and clear navigation tools and systems are now the norm thanks to Material Design and its helps to support website designers, developers, and business owners in creating their own branding guidelines and toolkit with which to develop and build the perfect online experience.

Here at Social Loop, all of our websites and development projects are completed using the principles of Material Design, to ensure that every one of our clients can be proud of the digital experience they present to their clients.