The card interface has been dominating the scene, lately. From mobile to web, it’s impossible to escape the cards. Why is this?

More and more apps are being designed to be used with one hand. This is one of the reasons why we are seeing apps with the card/swipe interface (think Tinder or Weotta). Cards are a simple and easy way to get key points of to the user for them to decide whether or not they are interested. To put it bluntly, it’s a no-frills way of getting info out to your audience. When you really think about it, how often do you spend time reading in-depth information on your phone? Pretty much never. Most of the time when we are on our phones we want whatever info we’re looking for to be quick and concise, “What’s an easy recipe to make for dinner tonight?” “What time is that movie playing?” This is exactly what the card interface offers. Think about collecting cards – it could be baseball cards, trading cards (I’m looking at you Pokemon), or business cards for you grownups – all of the important information is on that card. The card interface for touch screens is essentially the same concept, but now includes everything from dating profiles to recipes. Usually it’s a picture of the person/dish/outfit if the user is interested in learning more they can tap on the card to get more information.

tinder

The presence of cards can be noted in various ways, which are called affordances. Some apps use the interface design that includes dots or arrows at the bottom of the screen so that the user knows that they have the option to swipe left or right so see more pages. Another method is having the content overlap the edges of the content area, a la Facebook photos in your newsfeed. How a lot of designers choose to indicate that there is more than one card to view is by creating a stacked card look. They often show this by letting the edges of the other cards to peak out from under the top card. I, personally, think this is best practice for good UX.

Pinterest

The web is also starting to adopt the card interface. Sites like Pinterest have been using cards for a while but some, like Twitter, are just joining the party. Yes, cards really are just humble rectangles, modeled after cheap bits of paper that can fit in your pocket. But as they’ve permeated a healthy amount of sites, both digital and not. Cards have become the new voice for data, paired with a seemingly effortless tangibility that has the ability to scale to any interface on any hardware. It seems like everywhere you look nowadays there are cards. Spotify, Hulu, OKcupid, Google Now… Cards are everywhere and it does look like they are going away any time soon.