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I was going through a Google tutorial on building UI experiences with Jetpack Compose when I came across an odd aside:

Tip: neo-modern interactive is probably a design trend

After a web search, I'm as clueless about this term as I was before Google tipped me off about it. What is neo-modern interactive?

(The tip is in step 8 of this tutorial.)

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Here's the full quote for clarity:

Your designer is on a new design trend today. Gone are dishevelled UI and post-Material, this week's design follows the design trend "neo-modern interactive." You asked them what that means, and the answer was a bit confusing and involved emoji, but anyway, here are the mocks.

From the context, it looks like a general joke about the pretentiousness of designers from the point of view of Engineers and developers.

Phrases like "Your designer is on a new design trend today" and "This weeks design trend" hint at a fickle, changeable nature.

"Gone are dishevelled UI and post-Material" hints at frustration in the writer caused by designers who are constantly changing things.

"the answer was a bit confusing and involved emoji" is there to show us that the writer is not prepared to deal with what they see as pretentiousness.

Like you, I cannot find any reliable definition of the phrase "neo-modern interactive" which suggests that it does not exist. Neither can I find any trace of "Disheveled UI", and the only trace I can find for "post-Material" actually refers to the shift away from physical media into SAAS and streaming.

I think this is an important opportunity to understand the views that some developers/engineers have of design. This could come from having experienced a pretentious designer in the past or from anecdotes shared by other team members or even other disciplines.

Whatever the source, it shows how important it is to communicate clearly and intelligently with the people who are going to build your design - If they don't understand your choices, then they are not going to value those choices in the same way you do. Something that may be an important experience consideration may be deprioritised because it's assumed to be a bit of unnecessary decoration.

Make sure you talk to your developers and make sure you understand them too!

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  • "Disheveled design" was a term used in step 5 of the tutorial. It came with the disclaimer, "Tip: Disheveled design is not actually a design trend." From that I assumed that Google was telling the truth with the tip about "neo-modern interactive." Perhaps it's all a joke, but it doesn't seem like it.
    – Ted Hopp
    Nov 28 '21 at 23:47
  • "post-Material" refers to Material Design, Google's own design system.
    – D M
    Nov 29 '21 at 16:08
  • @DM Can you share a reference to that? I understand the sentiment within the context of the rest of the text here but couldn't find any reference beyond that. Nov 30 '21 at 9:11
  • 1
    I should have said, "likely refers to," since I'm not certain. I figured it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the designer being over not only established systems, but the evolution of them.
    – D M
    Nov 30 '21 at 14:22
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Those design trend examples are used to introduce the discussed techniques; In fact it explains how flexible you are as a developer and are capable of anticipating on ever changing design choices. The editor tried to add some humor to it.

For this section, a new designer on your team has given you a mock following the latest design trend – disheveled design. The core principle of disheveled design is to take a good design and add seemingly random changes to it to make it "interesting."

"Disheveled design" was made up to justify the use of randomTint() in the example.

Same counts for "neo-modern interactive".

Tip: neo-modern interactive is probably a design trend

I'm not sure why this was put in a hint section but can think of two reasons:

  1. It explains that the design trend was made up for this example. It could have been: "neo-modern interactive is apparently a design trend invented just for this example".

  2. Humor was used to hint that the design trend was made up as every design trend will probably be new, modern and interactive.

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