First off, I am a fan of Google’s Material Design.
I have extensively studied their guidelines and have been following its evolution since Google made guidelines public.
Lot of my preachings over the years are, in fact, inspired by Material’s principles.
A brief background on Material
It’s a set of look and feel and design principles developed mainly for Google’s Android platform that has gradually evolved into a distinct set of rules and aesthetics, now coined as Material Design. Guidelines for Material Design was made public in 2014 but the effort to unify the look and feel and UI across Google products have existed under various names. Material is sort of the ultimate manifestation of those past efforts.
Apart form the small subset of Android specific items, most of the design principles and guidelines within Material is a great foundation for any web project.
Actually, if you really think about it, most of the design principles and guidelines within it are common sense. Given proper context, there isn’t much a self-respecting UI designer wouldn’t have practiced anyway – Material or not.
Many of the principles in Material serve as a reminder of what good design is.
Once you strip away all the common sense and generally good design principles and guidelines – something that should be applied to any design anyway, only thing that’s left that makes Material unique is its look and feel – more look.
Now, the question becomes: “Do I want to merely mimic the look of Google’s Material Design?”
The web is saturated with numerous implementations of Material Design. Best examples are ones that selectively apply the pieces that support their project effectively.
There are no shortage of bad implementations of Material. Designs fail when the look and feel of Material is adopted, but without the complementing functionality and experience which it is designed for.
In conclusion, I think we should definitely borrow many of the great design principles and guidelines set forth by Material Design – specifically, the section “Cards Component” as well as Component section as a whole is a great place to take to heart for any UI designer.
However, attempt to apply Material Design in its entirety to random projects without fully understanding its intent and implications will most definitely result in disconnected and spotty experience.
Every project is too unique to successfully benefit from being strictly Material.