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Both the official Twitter application and Facebook application use a similar set of UI design patterns in their apps. These patterns were set out by google themselves in this blog post. The thing is not many apps use these design patterns.

Is it best to stick with the crowd and not use the design patterns (standard title bar instead of action bar, long press on list items instead of the contextual QuickActions box and no dashboard) or should I go with the design patterns proposed by Google and use by some.

Will using something new confuse users more than it helps them as people might be more used to apps without some of these design patterns.

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If someone can edit, 'android' should probably be in either the title or the question text to clarify, i thought this was regarding web apps for a minute until I saw the tag. Thanx. –  TJB Aug 10 '10 at 17:06
    
I've added android to the title. I thought the tag might be enough –  matto1990 Aug 10 '10 at 17:10
    
and i am still confused what really is the guideline. there are the general ones like title are left aligned, the ui is generally more flat in design (compare to the glossy ios)... –  Magnolia Oct 23 '12 at 9:07

6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Following the guidelines means that new users are instantly familiar with the design patterns and use cases and can be immediately productive. You should customize the small things, tints and colors and such, to make it more unique, but if you follow the guidelines, users will be more comfortable.

All of that goes right out the window for games, though.

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I think Google didn't propose these guidelines for no reason. Following them will take a lot of thinking time out of your hands, because the people at Google already did that for you. You know the rules can't be bad, because that would harm Googles brand and that's not in their interest. Following them is probably a good idea.

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I accepted the other answer however yours is also right. Wish I could mark both :( Have an up vote though –  matto1990 Aug 12 '10 at 0:02
    
Don's answer was better, so you did the right thing ;-) –  Jouke van der Maas Aug 12 '10 at 12:29

If 2 multi-billion dollar webapps use a specific design pattern, I think it is safe to say that it is a good one.

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50 million smokers can't be wrong! –  OverMachoGrande Aug 10 '10 at 7:54
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In regard to the commercial value of smoking - no they can not! –  Sruly Aug 10 '10 at 9:05
    
But does making my app looks like the many thousands of apps which don't use the design patterns make it easier to use for user or doesn't it matter too much. –  matto1990 Aug 10 '10 at 17:11
    
Welcome to the Church of Google please take a pew –  Chris S Aug 22 '10 at 22:07

The design pattern Twitter uses is called the Dashboard pattern and you should go with it. It is way more intuitive to the user then a regular UI.

Using the dashboard pattern your users will be able to see the major or important functions of your application at a glance.

Using the actionbar pattern you can present more frequently used functions to the user in a way which makes it easier to use them. Like right where they need them and not hidden somewhere in a context menu.

Just because the current UI guidelines don't include those patterns doesn't mean that they are bad and shouldn't be used. New users and even old users will adopt the new pattern very quickly.

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Note that the new version of Twitter has abandoned the dashboard. –  ehdv Feb 15 '11 at 19:28
    
Yes true but because they wanted to establish a more unified UX. They have basically just adjusted their Android clients UI to the already existing web service UI. –  Octavian Damiean Feb 16 '11 at 9:13

Coming from experience, I can tell you following the UI Patterns Google proposed saved me from much of the time-consuming UI design phase of my app. I was able to focus on functionality rather than the appearance and navigation flow. In addition, many of the users who have tried the new version of my app say that they love the new UI (compared to the old version which did not follow Google's guidelines).

Finally, my app is open source on GitHub, so you can see a (mostly) completed implementation of Google's guidelines.

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Well, its been 2 years, and twitter and facebook both removed their "dashboard".

Now the guidelines have became:`

Avoid navigation-only screens and instead let people get to the meat of your app right away by making content the centrepiece of your start screen.

Choose layouts that are visually engaging and appropriate for the data type and screen size.

Minimize perceived navigation effort by keeping your apps shallow.

There are still some apps like Google Play that shows some type of Dashboard, however, they have content too instead of just links.

A good write up here: http://www.scottlogic.co.uk/2012/09/is-the-dashboard-pattern-dead-2/

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Can you summarize the article rather than just linking to it? Linking elsewhere doesn't really constitute an answer to the question, you've just deferred the answer to somewhere else. If that link goes down then your answer is of no use anymore. –  JonW Oct 23 '12 at 10:00

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