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Google Android’s 3 UX Design Principles and 2 Jars of Marbles.

In their presentation at Google I/O, the designers share their design principles and how they make important UX decisions based on 2 jars of marbles.

Their design key points are devided into 3 categories: Enchant, Simplify and Amaze.

Enchant me

  • Delight me in surprising ways: pay attention to textures, sound effects and subtlety; ideally these things combine to create a sense of effortlessness for the user.
  • Real objects are more fun that button and menus: Android believes this requires less cognitive effort and is more emotionally satisfying; a quote that skeoumorphic designers will be pleased to note.
  • Let me make it mine: provide customization options that let users ‘own’ the experience.
  • Get to know me: learn users’ preferences, and give them an easy route back when they revisit rather than asking them for the same feedback again and again.
  • Simplify my life

  • Keep it brief: short phrases, simple words; the Android development team think people skip long sentences.
  • Pictures are faster than words: the team suggests using images to explain ideas because they’re eye-catching and faster to understand than text.
  • Decide for me but let me have the final say: the team believes that quickly guessing what your users want and then allowing them to undo your decision is preferable to asking too many questions to get it right.
  • Only show what I need when I need it: avoid overwhelming people with too much data by hiding non-essential options and keep tasks small and bite-sized.
  • I should always know where I am: ensure you create a strong hierarchy, with established relationships between stages. Always provide feedback on tasks that are in progress.
  • Never lose my stuff: save data that is given to you and allow people to access it later, this is especially true for sites with complex forms, such as insurance brokerages.
  • If it looks the same, it should act the same: help users understand different functions by making different UI elements visually different. Avoid using modes, where one element is able to perform multiple tasks.
  • Only interrupt me if it’s important: help people stay focussed by shielding users from the unimportant minutiae of your site’s process.
  • Make my life amazing

  • Give me tricks that work everywhere: the team suggests utilizing key visual and UI patterns to aid in learning. In other words, if users have learnt to click a link on most websites, they won’t expect to have to drag it on yours.
  • It’s not my fault: when things go wrong, be nice; the tone of your 404 page is essential to good customer management.
  • Sprinkle encouragement: give feedback on actions so users know that their interaction took effect. It could be anything, from a subtle sound to a change in the color of the interface.
  • Do the heavy lifting for me: the team recommends making novices feel like experts by providing shortcuts that accomplish more than the user was hoping to achieve.
  • Make important things fast: prioritize the functionality of your site, make key actions easy to find, and easy to use.
    According to  psychologist Barbara L. Fredrickson, it takes three positive emotions to outweigh every negative one. Based on this, the Google design team set up two jars of marble to examine the costs and benefits. For every positive emotion that the design makes, they put a marble in the good emotion jar. However, if the design causes a negative emotion, they’ll put 3 marbles in the bad emotion jar. Their goal is to get an empty negative jar and a full positive jar.

    The team also has a writer that helps them write “positive” messages which don’t place the blame on users.  Android’s tone is human-like, friendly and approachable.





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    decide for me

    Their Ice Cream Sandwich’s UX design principles are also shown in this PDF or  on their website.

    Overall, I think Google is very smart to share its design process. This is a great way to advertise their products, while making it doesn’t look like advertising. Their process exemplifies that even a small decision can cause big changes in user experience, because one negative emotion equals three positive emotion. Of course we shouldn’t stick to these rigid numbers, but still, asking yourself, “What emotion will this design create? Is it positive or negative? How and why?” will help you a lot in UX design.



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