Thoughts on Google's Material Design language

At yesterday's IO conference Google announced a new common design language called Material Design. Strangely the announcement didn't come with a new product launch. Instead they've laid out their intention for redesigns and new projects.

Hats off to the Google design team for the depth of work that's clearly gone in to this. The visual details are beautiful. The colour palettes are delicious and the breadth of information on how to achieve the design standards are unlike anything else i've seen before.

As yet there are no mainstream products that have carry the new design language, so it's impossible to offer any real commentary on how successful it is. However there is little evidence that Google has something 'own-able'. Unlike Apple's 'aqua' UI and Microsoft's 'metro' UI there doesn't seem to be anything that you can say is distinctly Google. They've used a lot of existing design trends and skilfully woven them together, but does it mark them out as unique?

My belief is that a design language is a brand's own personal tone of voice. It's the distinct accent in which you communicate and if you want to appear alternative to others talking you need to seem different. Perhaps this was never Google's intention. Perhaps their strategy is more subtle and they want to be quieter. Perhaps Google is making the effort to seem 'everyday' and therefore more accessible.

Either way the visual design rigour that has been applied here has to be admired. I'm looking forward to seeing it appear on the biggies like Maps, Search and Gmail.


Skype Design team put Windows in your iPhone

Sneaky bunch at Microsoft!

They created a beautiful new design language for Windows Mobile, that's since made its way all around the Windows brand. Since purchasing Skype there has been signs of the Skype brand slowly and subtly adopting elements of the MSoft brand.

When it came time for Skype to redesign their iOS app those clever pixel wranglers threw away any references to the Apple iOS language. They've taken the Windows Design language, smashed it with the Skype brand and put it in your iPhone. Possibly one of the trickiest UI/Brand design challenges imaginable and the team at Skype have done a lovely job of it. The translation of the Windows UI is subtle enough to make it feel distinctly Windows, but the details in the surrounding elements (moving clouds, wobbling menus etc) keep it firmly in the Skype personality.

Along with the new UI comes this nice little clip that plays in the app when it first loads.

The Skype Design teams showing huge talent in bringing together facets of the UX.


I'm looking for a Senior UI Design Wizard

The Global Digital Design team here at RSA is expanding again and I'm hunting for a Senior Designer to join me.

RSA is over 300 years old. Although it has a rich heritage we recognise that digital technology is a critical factor to its future. We are big. I mean *really* big. Being big comes with benefits (good pay, big budgets, stability, discounts, pensions, annual bonus etc), but it also comes with challenges and our team has been tasked with breaking the old rules.

RSA Digital is an agency style internal team that covers UX, Design, Analytics, Content and Build. We work across RSA's entire global network (from Canada to Singapore and most places between). Our work touches every aspect of the insurance experience, across multiple RSA brands, as well as partner brands (e.g: John Lewis, Argos, Tesco). We want to change the way things are done and we will fight for the user at every step.

You'll be working with the Lead Designer (me) and Junior Designers to create low fidelity prototypes and high fidelity mockups. You'll be the bridge between the UX Strategists and Frontend Developers.

As a Senior Designer you'll be expected to actively support the more junior members of the Design team, present your work to clients, develop new ideas to share with the team, get your hands dirty helping mould the team.

RSA is a Windows based organisation, but the Design team is kitted out with MacBook's and Adobe Creative Cloud. You'll get paid in money and the tea flavoured water is free.

There is lots more I could tell you about the job, but the best thing would be to drop me a message (ideally with a link to your work samples) and we can talk over a coffee.