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MUI vs Material Design

Illustration showing design icons and a laptop screen showing the MUI and Material design icons

It’s been a while since we last wrote about the Material Design world. Back in 2019, the Product team immersed ourselves in this new world of design principles, methodologies and UI pattern and components. Transitioning from a custom design framework and UI theme to a Material design framework was the first significant front-end evolution for the Invotra platform which provided valuable gains for our users.

That was then and this is now. We are in the process of making another significant leap forward and this time we are doing it with MUI, or Material UI, the closely related React framework to Material Design. So besides both frameworks sharing similar names what is the difference between them? Is Material UI just a react version of the Material design framework? At first glance perhaps but when you look closer there are some distinctions.

What is Material Design?

Material Design is an adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools that support the best practices of user interface design. Backed by open-source code, Material streamlines collaboration between designers and developers and helps teams quickly build beautiful products.

Material design logo

What is MUI?

MUI, or Material UI is an open-source React component library that directly references Material Design created by Google. This library consists of a wide  range of prebuilt production-ready code components and more.

What are the key differences?

  • Material Design is the original source and creator of the design framework. Design Principles, best practices and methodologies are all defined, refined and continually evolving.

  • Material Design can be adopted by any platform Android to IOS or front end platform such as RMWC, MUI, MDBootstrap, to build web components, screens and applications.

Why we use MUI (It's a React thing + Great documentation)

MUI is a library of react components that allows us to build interfaces quickly. The react framework follows the principles of Material Design, which means that designers and developers have access to detailed documentation, updates, and ready-made elements compatible with all browsers and operating systems.

Therefore, using the MUI library dramatically reduces development time and the budget required for it.

Handy resources for designers and developers:

How we harness the power and functionality of MUI

In addition to the benefits and features of MUI already described in this post, we are able to use UXPin Merge to build new production-ready custom components by integrating with an MUI libary in two ways. Either by integration with a GitHub repo that includes MUI components or with a Storybook that includes MUI components. This not only allows us to build with production-ready MUI core components but build new custom options, add them to our libraries and speed up design and development and guarantee consistency in our design system.

The transition from Sketch to UXPin Merge has been challenging at times. The product team can admit that the new way of building screens and components has been a steep learning curve. Why so? On the surface, UXPin merge looks like a vector based tool, but in reality it’s code all the way. So the product team had to upskill and become more proficient in HTML/CSS and fully grasping FlexBox for layouts and building nested components.

This recent evolution has paid off  and now our workflow and design-development process has improved dramatically  in terms of delivery times and overall quality.

Handy resources for designers and developers

How we harness the power and functionality of MUI

Material Design is constantly evolving and more recently launched Material Design 3 which delivers a more personalised experience to an individual user whilst still improving web accessibility for all. Web accessibility is a major focus for us and we strive to retain current standards and adopt new methodologies or approaches to constantly build inclusive experiences for everyone.  

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