It's being reported that Google is moving to a "card-centric" redesign in the upcoming Android-5 O/S.

  • Is it more responsive?
  • Is it more intuitive (quicker to realize how to do things)?
  • Does it use less memory thus allowing for more functionalities to be implemented in the same footprint?
  • Are there other advantages?

2 Answers 2


I've found this article by Vedran Arnautovic very interesting and informative. According to the author's research these are the main reasons "why card based interaction patterns work and what makes them attractive to users":

  1. Cards support our limited working memory by allowing us to break up information through the process of chunking and focus on as much (or as little) as we can process at a time.
  2. Cards are tangible and humans prefer to work with tangible things.
  3. Cards feel ‘comfortable’ – they are the ‘right size’ to hold in our hands, and that’s why they work well on mobile devices, which we also happen to hold in our hands.
  4. By catering so well to mobile, which is the lowest common denominator when it comes to device size, cards implicitly cater for other, larger devices. You can simply move them around to take advantage of the extra space. You can see a good visualisation of that here.
  5. Cards are a nice compromise between skeuomorphic and flat design. You can make them as flat as you like, but they are still cards and with that come some inherent affordances. You can flick, flip, order and stack cards…and it all feels so natural and effortless. On the plus side (for those like me who like minimalist design) you do not need a lot of chrome to get the benefit of these affordances – a border and a minimal shadow will do.

It also contains a very interesting list of pros and cons, based on the author's experience:


  1. Consistency and seamless experience across devices. “Consistency builds trust”. (Donald Norman, Luke Wroblewski, Robert Scoble)
  2. Pattern is suited to different screen sizes. (see diagram below)
  3. Can present action buttons for a single item (rather than lists with multiple buttons).
  4. Cards are more visually appealing (than current layout list layouts).
  5. Popular pattern. Ebay, Twitter, Spotify, Google, Rdio, Netflix, Slideshare, Etsy, Android, iOS, Windows 8 and more.
  6. Can reduce info on cards (as pattern is not in-and-out ), which in turn means user has to tap to learn more (behaviour data).
  7. Having a standardised card pattern enables aggregated feeds of differing content.
  8. Cards lend themselves to sharing and embedding via Twitter, Google etc
  9. Hypothesis (to be validated) that cards are easier to scan than current layout.
  10. Hypothesis that it matches user behaviours of having a group of items and one that you are currently paying attention to.


  1. Cost of changing.
  2. Resistance to change (users).
  3. Some design challenges for a compelling desktop implementation (scroll bars etc).
  4. Cards are not as efficient for bulk updates/changes compared to a list of elements.
  5. Cards are not as efficient for bulk reviewing compared to a list of elements, the limited amount of information and depth of each card prevents scanning and comparison of multiple elements.
  6. More likely that sorting/filtering a list of cards based on a value that is not displayed, adding load by requiring users to view each element.
  7. High investment in research and testing needed for this change – are there enough pro’s to justify this investment as a genuine increase in user experience, or is it merely a trend that will soon pass?
  8. Speed of scanning is negatively impacted due to cognitive load (high volume of content) in 2 column card layout
  9. Inconsistency for a time until card layout is implemented across the board (we have a complex, multi-faceted product)

Other interesting reads are:

  • Thank you for finding this and other articles. However, common practice on the StackExchange sites is to avoid posting most of the referenced article. Instead, find the most succinct passages that most directly address the question posed. Place them inside blockquotes which display as beige boxes of text. Aug 12, 2014 at 21:45
  • Thanks for your help @DocSalvage, I will do as you suggest! :) Aug 13, 2014 at 8:54
  • First article link is down.
    – erik_lev
    Sep 27, 2016 at 23:44

You may want to check out this blog post by Rob Gill.

On a now removed post, Prismatic said "...our studies indicate multi-item-per-row grid layouts deliver inferior results to single-item-per-row list layouts for our particular design problem". Their design problem was showing content in a linear feed and the card format created more work (e.g., eye movement, comprehension time, etc.) for their users.

  • Blog is no longer up, so link is broken. Sep 21, 2016 at 19:24
  • @AndreDickson Thanks! Updated with another blog post.
    – erik_lev
    Sep 27, 2016 at 23:42

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