Android’s design principles are first and foremost targeted at the users and the emotions they experience while using their product. This is applicable to app designs as well. Here are the principles that can help you as a designer (or as a team of designers) explore/brainstorm design solutions, make design decisions, presenting your ideas and prioritizing fixes.

The base of their principles include:

  1. Enchant me
  2. Simplify my life
  3. Make me amazing

Enchant me

This principle is about filling people with joy, showing them beautiful visuals and graceful motions and letting them customize their space as well as letting them directly touch objects and interact with them:

  1. Delight me in surprising ways – fun interactions which was enjoyable
  2. Real objects are more fun than buttons and menus
  3. Let me make it mine – makes people feel more at home
  4. Get to know me

Simplify my life

is about making things easy for people, making their world simple to navigate, explaining it in clear words and sometimes even with pictures and bringing attention to what is essential

  1. Keep it brief
  2. Pictures are faster than words – using no words but images/motions to do explanation successfully and subtly
  3. Decide for me but let me have the final say – if you are thinking of having a dialogue that asks “are you sure”, just do it and them offer a way for them to undo. Ban the words “are you sure” because it places blame on the user by presuming they didn’t think something through 
  4. Only show what I need when I need it
  5. I should always know where I am
  6. Never lose my stuff
  7. If it looks the same, it should act the same
  8. Only interrupt me if it’s important – prevents users from feeling annoyed or angry

Make me amazing

is about making people feel capable, strong and smart, giving them things that they would love to show off to their friends and making them feel like they are in charge.

  1. Give me tricks that work everywhere – patterns that are applied throughout the platform can be transferable to your app
  2. It’s not my fault –  avoid placing blame on the users, that makes them feel incompetent. For example, when writing for UI, pretend you are talking to someone smart and competent but may not necessarily talking the language (more precisely the technical jargons) very well by using short words, active verbs and common nouns.
  3. Sprinkle encouragement – encourage people to interact with the device /your app through touch; in form of words, talk directly to users using second person with shortening of phrases like we do in casual conversations using a tone that is human and approachable .
  4. Do the heavy lifting for me – make things easy, without all the hassles and multitude of steps (or clicks) that burdens me.
  5. Make important things fast.

Using the principles

How and when can we use these principles

  1. Exploring design solutions
    • when you are having trouble designing, look at the principles to get going
    • if you have already come up with several approaches, evaluate each of them in term of the principles and see which one does best and then take the winning approach and improve it further
  2. Presenting design
    • bring along the principles to explain your thinking or when defending your choices
    • to encourage actionable feedback
  3. Research
    • when developing your research plans, use the principles to help determine your goals
    • when delivering findings from your studies, use the principles to name reasons for what you observe, both the successes and failures
  4. Prioritizing fixes
    • use the principles to help make your case for what is most important
    • the principles might also help you identify some quick wins
  5. Brainstorming
    • start off by going over the principles as it is a great way to frame the challenge as well as encourage everyone to think on the same page

When creating the design, you ask in the voice of people who uses them

  1. Are you enchanting us?
    • are you looking for ways to inject enjoyment and pleasure with pictures, real objects, animations and pleasing sounds?
  2. Are you simplifying our lifes?
    • are you removing all those things that burns us out – the inconsistencies, the feeling of being lost and confusing messages and placing blames?
    • are you keeping our time and attention focused on what really matters?
  3. Are you making us amazing?
    • are you creating something that we want to show off to our friends?
    • are you solving real problems for us?
    • are you giving us the power to do things that we never thought we could?

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