What “Beta” Means for Material Design Guidance

Adrian Secord
Nov 14 · 3 min read

Material is now marking some design guidance as beta — learn why and what it means for the design system.

Image by the amazing Michelle Alvarez, Google Senior Visual Designer

We recently began labeling aspects of our design guidance as “beta” on material.io. What does that mean? We’re being more transparent about which components, patterns, and elements are likely to evolve in the near term.

The background on Material beta

As an organization, Material Design strives to produce the highest quality design and engineering for you to use in your products. Everything we do goes through multiple rounds of review, testing, and validation before it makes it out into the world. But the world keeps changing — as do the technologies, contexts, and constraints shaping our design system. We want to get new components into your hands faster and learn from how you use them.

What beta means on material.io

When you see content in our spec marked as beta, know that it’s still backed by research and careful consideration by our team, but it’s also subject to change. There are typically two reasons why something is marked beta:

  1. It hasn’t been fully engineered on enough of our platforms. Implementing new guidance on different platforms is an important part of finalizing the design. Material supports four platforms: Android, Flutter, iOS, and the web. Implementing a new component on one platform is a first step, but we want to address any concerns that come up as we implement across our other platforms. For example, does this pattern work well using iOS’ particular navigation gestures? How about on the web when the user scales up the text size on the page? Although our designers consider multiple platforms, until we’ve implemented a new UI pattern widely, it’s difficult to anticipate what issues might come up.
  2. The underlying concept is still emerging. For example, machine learning is clearly changing the world but design best practices are still taking shape. Our patterns for machine learning-powered features are a first attempt at helping designers grapple with certain use cases and situations. However, given the newness of machine learning in user interfaces, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the landscape is changing rapidly and our guidance might need significant updates to continue to work well.

How Material guidance graduates from beta

Of course, we don’t want guidance to be marked beta forever! We’ll move guidance out of beta when it’s been implemented in code for multiple platforms or becomes a well-established pattern across several Google products.

As of November 2019, here are the components, design elements, and UI patterns in beta:

What do you think?

Our approach to using beta for design guidance is still taking shape, and we’d love to get your feedback. Think it’s helpful? Unnecessary? Let us know in the comments below 👇

Google Design

Adrian Secord

Written by

Engineer, recovered academic, learning to be uncomfortable.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google

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