I'm making an app and I'm not sure whether to follow Google's material design or stick to a completely custom look and feel.

I can find pros and cons in each approach:

Material design Custom


  • Consistent look and feel across your apps
  • You don't have to reinvent the wheel in terms of your design
  • Google is the designer and Google made the mistakes so you don't have to
  • Great documentation on how to use material design and there are plenty of resources out there too


  • Custom (unique) look and feel - you are the designer of the components and you can extend them as much as you would like
  • Has no association with any major brand or company and that can make the consumer trust your app more


  • Associated with one of the most powerful - and controversial for many - company in the world: Google. This can equate to a feeling of distrust in the consumer of the app. When we think of privacy, Google is not the first word that comes to mind.
  • Google is quite political and left-leaning and associates itself with groups such as black lives matter which many people are not particularly fond of. This means conservative-leaning users may not want to use your app.
  • Has a very stock Android feel - which can make the app look rushed and cheap


  • No guidelines or components are handed to you - this can be a negative for some people who are only beginning in UX/UI design
  • May not look as good and intuitive as Google's Material Design

Weighing the pros and cons of each one - which solution would you use if you were to create an app?

  • Your "pros and cons" are completely subjective and not based in any objective data, not to mention some of them are objectively wrong or arguable to the very least. This is not a UX question by any mean and its the definition of an opinionated and biased question
    – Devin
    Dec 18, 2020 at 17:38
  • @Devin I respect your opinion wholeheartedly - but you are also making a statement in which no evidence/data has been given to support your claim. Give me an example as to why I am wrong? I am curious to hear your side of the story.
    – tommy99
    Dec 18, 2020 at 18:58

4 Answers 4


Think of material design as the basic tools that you need to get started. It has expanded and developed significantly in the last four years and will likely continue to do so. You just might be ahead of the curve.

Material design was intended for the android platform and Apple's Human Interface Guide was intended for the ios, mac,... Platforms. With the introduction of cross-platform front end frameworks, React Native, many people do not create platform specific user interfaces.

Your theme should represent your brand. https://material.io/design/material-theming/overview.html#material-theming

Create a color system that is consistent with the brand. Material design color system did not work for me. I was looking minimal color in my app as it is mostly data so I have one primary color only.

I used the standard ios and android fonts except where branding was important.

I recommend sticking with the navigation components as much as possible.


Material Design/ any other well documented component library like Ant, Bootstrap, Semantic etc. also bring well developed and thought out components for the development team to use + build off of. They would not have to think about building in good component practices like keyboard navigation, accessibility standards according to W3C etc since these libraries typically are built using all these. This would reduce the go-to-market time of your time.

An approach could be to start off with an existing library, and then replacing it with custom designed components as the need arises.


I remember Google offers some themes (ie Crane) for download.

As you commented, using Material helps you get faster to market.

I think Airbnb uses a modified material design theme.
That could be the best of both worlds. Start with the stock one, then improve as you see fit.


If your customers have very strong views that using a Google product will cost you business, you'll need to make sure you don't use Google Analytics on your company website, YouTube for your tutorial videos, or Google Slides for your sales presentations.

There are several Material UI themes that don't look out-of-box, but still have all of the user research, accessibility, and cost savings benefits of Material. That might be a good option vs. a costly bespoke system that depends on dedicated UI development resources.

  • 2
    Why would your political leaning influence the kind of mobile device you purchase? Dec 18, 2020 at 6:13
  • 1
    @user74889 - I have to agree, this is an unfounded rant against an imagined enemy. As if the only reason to dislike Google is the fact that they virtue signal for Democrats (who are not even actual leftists but center-right party), and not their regular killing of products, anti-union and anti-privacy attitude and a ton of other stuff.
    – Davor
    Dec 18, 2020 at 13:50
  • 2
    @Davor - lets avoid politics. Left and right is not well defined (although some pretend there are clear and absolute distinctions) and parties (Democrat and Republican) are coalitions whose constituent factions are often at odds with each other.
    – Mayo
    Dec 18, 2020 at 16:16
  • 2
    @Mayo - dude I wasn't the one who brought up politics into this, the answer did that.
    – Davor
    Dec 20, 2020 at 16:52
  • 1
    @Izquierdo - BLM has done a tremendous amount of damage, both material and societal. I'm not an American, and I have no stake in this, but I don't see how not wanting to be associated with people burning cities and killing teenages (funny how those black lives don't matter...) is somehow terrible.
    – Davor
    Dec 20, 2020 at 16:54

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