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.