January 13, 2012

Android design standards - Finally!

Google just announced design standards for applications on Android. Having three different Android devices at home, I have first hand experience of the UI fragmentation on the platform. However, Google needs to go beyond Android for design unification. Google is broader than mobile, and having design consistency is going to be crucial for a standard user experience across all Google properties.

Consider the Gmail app, and in particular the menu item to “Report Spam”, for example. I use three different flavors of GMail, and the design across the three avenues is not only non-intuitive, but inconsistent. Even with an abundance of access, I have yet to develop the sort of muscle memory that I would associate with the typical Google user interface.

On the desktop, it is part of a grouped threesome, and looks like a happy stop sign. And it's relative position remains the same whether I am in the inbox view or the message view. That feels like a UI that I could get used to.

On my Galaxy SII, the SPAM icon looks like an alien, with a varying location on the menu. When I select a thread from my inbox, it shows up as an option in first menu page. When I am within an email, however, it takes two menu clicks to get to the option.

Finally on my Thrive, it is an option available only on the overflow menu. While that might say a lot about how good Google thinks it's filters are, it still makes for a very annoying user experience.

Three form factors, and three different ways of thinking about Spam. It is time Google thought about design standards for across it's solutions, and not just for a platform.

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