Redefining Mobile User Interfaces with Cards

Simple. Interactive. Powerful


With so many mobile applications releasing everyday, very few catch our attention. Some apps have great visual designs and represent information in a new way while others redefine & reinvent existing layouts. One such existing layout, tried and tested by us several times, that is becoming popular is the Cards layout.

Well, what is so special about Cards?

“It’s not like we’ve invented a new way to organize information,” admits Matias Duarte, UX director for Android. “We’ve actually tapped into one of the oldest pieces of graphic and information design around–business cards, calling cards, greeting cards, playing cards. They all have the same embodiments because they’re all reflections of a similar set of design problems.” — ARE CARDS GOOD DESIGN, OR A FOREGONE CONCLUSION?

Simplicity: Cards is all about simplicity.

Being Minimal: They help us to show the required information that makes it easy for us to digest.

Provide a Glance: What is my weather today? When is my next flight? — Well, with cards, answer to these questions can be represented with simple visual cards than complex visual interfaces with many information to digest (especially in weather apps where some apps have animations, visuals, and throw more information etc.,)

Holds Key to more Information: If the user wants to know more information, they can very well go ahead and tap/click on the card which would provide more information regarding the selected card.

I think Cezary Pietrzak has done a good job on summarizing why cards are useful.

Below is a comparison of Google Now weather card and Accuweather app — clearly the information in the Google Now weather card is easy to digest and has the right amount of information that I need to know before I go outing or shopping, whereas there are lots of information in the Accuweather app — of which the current temperature is what matters to me most.

Accuweather App
Google Now Weather Card

Google has now adopted the cards design almost in all of their products where applicable, especially in mobile apps like YouTube, Google Now, Google+ and even Google Wallet.

Google Wallet App
Google Now Watch Cards

I also like how Circa news app uses the card layout. The app loads the cards into the foreground as you scroll through the news.

And here is Jelly app that also uses card layout which makes this app super simple to help users by answering their queries.

Jelly App

Summary

Cards are slowly becoming popular choice for mobile apps, not because they are fancy, but because they can show information to users that are simple to digest.

Update: In order to see how cards can be useful, I did an exercise on designing a calendar app with the cards layout. You can read the article here.

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