A common line of advice in content marketing, these days, is all about brevity. Keep it short, keep it simple, nobody reads anything anymore. And, on one hand, this is pretty sound logic. Body copy is ignored, notifications are ignored, and perhaps worst of all, errors and warnings are ignored. These days, 'Are you sure you want to empty the trash?' probably stands for more of a legal defense than anything, as we've become so inundated with text-based instruction that we can't help but look past it and click whatever button is most accessible.
Recently, at their yearly I/O Conference, Google announced their new design standards for future versions of Android, coined, 'Material Design'. Generally being out-of-the-loop when it comes to the Android world, I stumbled upon it via a Twitter link and immediately dropped everything to browse the guidelines. Again, being out of the loop, I wondered if I had accidentally come across some secret guide to being 'Googly,' but it turns out that most tech blogs were covering it and thousands of others were scrolling, eyebrow-raised, just like I was. You can read through the Material Design guidelines here.
With Material Design, Google is continuing to pave the road for UX and interaction design by focusing on the science of 'what makes touch-based interfaces inherently touchable'. The bulk of Material Design, as a theory, is focused on references to good old paper and ink, otherwise known as 'the original flat design medium'.
When I was much younger, I had a brief Phish stage. A friend had lent me a copy of their double-disc live album 'A Live One' and it took spin after spin in my shoddy discman as I watched the scenery roll by from the backseat of my parents' station wagon, rolling off to another hockey tournament. At some point during this time, a friend's dad — a lifelong Phish devotee — heard about this and, in a moment of dedication to his favorite band, gave me a tour t-shirt from some year before I had any concept of music, nevermind jam bands.
I was elated. I wore it for a week, feeling like I had finally cracked the code of what was 'cool and unique'. Then, I never wore it again.
Despite how it may appear from the outside, the role of a designer is only about 10% 'making things look nice' and about 90% solving problems. While the common tools of the trade — the eponymous Creative Suite, the beaten-up Wacom tablet, the shiny MacBook Pro — appear to be the most crucial elements for success, the vast majority of the work is done on whiteboards, sheets of printer paper, and on the backs of napkins. Design isn't simply an art of beautifying information, but one of efficiently solving problems.