Mobile app design ideas and trends for startups to inspire from
Startups that wish to create mobile apps often search for a magic solution that will make their design top-notch. However, the process of designing app interfaces requires a specific set of skills and knowledge and includes several complex aspects. In this article, we’ll tell you about the basics of mobile app design and take you through the hottest mobile app design ideas that can help you find your app’s style. Whether you want to know how to make an app look good or how to make it user-friendly, this article has it all. It’s the mix of essential knowledge and up-to-date trends that can help you create functioning and engaging apps for today’s market.
What mobile app design consists of?
The design of mobile applications for business can include several processes. The goal is to create an app that is attractive, friendly, intuitive, and easy for users to navigate.
Here’s what mobile app design can include:
User Experience design is all about creating a smooth and intuitive interaction between users and the application. The main objective is to structure the app’s interface in a way that users can easily achieve their goals with minimal effort. Usually, at this stage designers create wireframes — blueprints of the interface that represent the skeletal framework of the future app. It’s used to layout the basic structure of the app before adding content and color schemes.
User Interface design involves the look and feel of the app. At this stage, designers choose the color schemes, button styles, layout, and all the aesthetic aspects of the app. The main focus of UI design is to make the app visually appealing and easy for users to understand.
Prototyping allows designers and clients to get a glimpse of how the app would function and look once complete. It simulates the user flow and interactions within the app and helps to test its functionality.
Branding is the stage when designers create the brand identity of a project or a company. This can include creating logos, custom illustrations, icons, brand books, and strategies. Branding can create a strong and positive image of your company and make it recognizable.
Mobile app design basics and principles
Before we dive into discussing innovative mobile app design ideas, let’s start with understanding several basic principles of better app design.
Simplicity & hierarchy: The foremost principle of mobile app design is simplicity. Avoid overcrowding the interface with elements like text, buttons, and images. Prioritize the elements to create a clear visual hierarchy. Overly complicated designs can confuse users and they might abandon the app.
Consistency: Consistency in design helps users to understand and learn how to navigate an app quickly. Whether it’s the color scheme, fonts, or button styles, everything should be consistent across all screens.
User-centered design: It is crucial to understand the needs and wants of your target audience. This will help guide your design process and ensure that the app is functional, satisfies the users’ needs, and provides a great user experience.
Standard elements: Using standard and familiar buttons, symbols, and icons improves your app’s usability as users will quickly understand how to interact with your app. This way you can make navigation in the app predictable.
Accessibility: Your mobile app design idea should cater to all types of users, including those with disabilities. Material Design principles by Google recommend using large clickable areas, clear fonts, and appropriate contrast ratios to ensure your app is accessible to people with vision impairments. Support features such as voice input and output for visually impaired users and subtitles or transcripts for hearing impaired users. If your app is tol be used globally, consider multi-language support to cater to users from different regions.
Responsiveness: A design must look great on all devices and screen sizes. Whether a user is browsing on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or a large desktop monitor, a responsive design guarantees an optimal viewing and interaction experience.
Feedback & interaction: Your application must give feedback in response to every user’s action. It could be as simple as a button changing color when pressed. It helps to avoid the users’ confusion as they see that the app reacted to their actions.
Prototyping & testing: It’s important to prototype your design and carry out usability testing. This gives you an early understanding of usability problems so you can make necessary changes before launch.
Top mobile app design trends for 2023-2024
Staying updated with trends is a crucial aspect of making your design modern and engaging. Here are some trending mobile app design ideas:
The retro trend in mobile app design is a stylish nod to the past that infuses modern interfaces with a nostalgic charm. This trend leverages vintage color palettes, old-school typography, and traditional graphical elements to create a warm, familiar, and evocative user experience. Influences from the 80s and 90s are particularly popular, featuring pixel art, neon colors, and retro-futuristic themes reminiscent of old video games and science fiction films. Using this style, you can capture the attention of two demographic groups: young users who find retro things fresh, and mature users who experience nostalgia. While this design trend may not fit every app, if the vintage aesthetic aligns with your brand, don’t hesitate to try it.
The trend uses unusual shapes and forms to make designs more engaging. Whether it uses big, bold shapes or flowing forms, abstract art can make a design stand out and leave a strong impression and make the app unique. This simple approach helps to get users’ attention easily without distracting them from the app’s features.
The text overlay trend in mobile design is about putting text over images. The text can be a big title, a caption that grabs attention, or useful info that goes well with the image underneath. This not only makes the design more interesting but also helps direct users to important parts or messages. Text overlay can add a fun touch to your design, but be careful — you might make the design harder to read if you don’t contrast the fonts well.
Animations and motion design
Animated elements breathe life into apps, making the interfaces more engaging, intuitive, and user-friendly. Animations can keep users interested and make it easier for them to understand information, unlike static content. For example, you can animate the buttons in your app to improve the user’s experience and make it more straightforward. Such microinteractions provide feedback to the user and guide them through processes.
3D elements are becoming increasingly popular as they enhance user engagement and provide a more immersive experience. 3D adds a new depth and dimension that make interfaces more lifelike. While flat design and images can offer clarity, they often risk appearing monotonous. Users are increasingly drawn to content that feels more interactive. However, keep in mind that implementing 3D elements into an app can make the development process more complicated and expensive. If your budget is tight and you’re going for an MVP version, you can incorporate simple shadows and layering in graphics to inject a three-dimensional effect, giving your interface a sense of volume and depth.
to your app design
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) offer users a fun and interactive experience. AR shows how digital objects can look in the real world — imagine using an app to see the size of a wolf compared to your room. On the other hand, VR takes users to a totally different, made-up world, like going on a virtual tour or playing a virtual game. These technologies are changing many areas, from games and movies to shopping and learning. By making experiences more exciting and interesting, AR and VR can make users spend more time on an app and make the app unforgettable.
Voice User Interface (VUI)
The advent of voice assistants and smart speakers is making voice interaction design more necessary than ever. Many people have grown accustomed to sending voice messages rather than typing to communicate with friends. Some prefer asking Siri or Alexa to perform different actions rather than doing them manually. Hence, enabling your app to respond to voice commands is a strategic step to increase its popularity.
Neomorphism is a design trend that combines flat minimalist design and old skeuomorphic principles to create interfaces that look dynamic. The end result is a semi-realistic interface filled with soft shadows, coupled with a muted, off-white color palette which gives the illusion of direct illumination.
More brands are now combining the bold style of brutalism and the simple style of minimalism. Neo Brutalism uses flat images and bold fonts, breaking some common design rules. This mobile app design idea keeps interfaces simple but adds a small touch of rebellion. If you want your designs to have this rebellious feel, use black-and-white colors and place elements in unusual ways. Try to avoid making your design look too perfect or polished. Although some brutalist designs can be hard to navigate, neo-brutalism makes sure the layout is simple and easy to understand.
With larger-screen devices hitting the market, gesture-based navigation is gaining popularity. It allows users to navigate through the app using intuitive gestures. Swiping feels more fun than tapping buttons and making extra actions. Some developers get rid of buttons entirely, arguing that they clutter the interface and take up a lot of space on the screen. The gesture design trend proposes the substitution of buttons with intuitive swiping functionality, priming a new era of app interaction.
These trends are no panacea, though. It is important to consider the specific needs of your target users when deciding which trends could be beneficial for your app. Always ensure your design decisions improve usability and contribute positively to your users’ overall experience.
How to find inspiration for mobile app design ideas?
If you’re still hesitating about which mobile app design idea to use in your project, try these methods — they can help you figure out the future style of your app.
- User needs:
The first step to finding inspiration for your app is to understand the needs of your target audience. Conduct surveys or interviews to gather insights about what users want from the app. Look for problems or gaps that your app can fill.
- Competitor analysis:
Analyze apps that are similar to yours to understand the industry norms, what works and what doesn’t. This can inspire you to create a better version of a particular app or find a unique angle.
- Behance and Dribbble:
Both are platforms where designers showcase their projects. Browsing through these websites can give you an array of mobile app design ideas. You can find inspiration from our designs on Dribbble, Behance, and Pinterest.
- App design blogs:
You can find great design examples in blogs and articles related to app design. Websites like Smashing Magazine, UX Collective, Awwwards, and InVision’s blog offer plenty of insightful articles and case studies.
Pinterest can also be a goldmine of inspiration. There you can find lots of design concepts, color themes, typography, animations, etc.
- Design awards websites:
Websites like Awwwards, Apple Design Awards, or Google Material Design Awards showcase the best of the best in design around the world. They are great resources for finding cutting-edge and innovative mobile app design ideas.
Following UI/UX design trends can also serve as inspiration. Read trend reports like the yearly ones published by Behance or Envato, which can expose you to innovative design elements and ideas.
Nothing beats trial and error in the quest for inspiration. Let your designers create mock-ups, and experiment with color themes, fonts, illustrations, etc., to find what works best for your app.
- Inspiration from other industries:
Sometimes, it helps to look beyond your own industry. For example, if your project is from the e-commerce section, you can find inspiration in areas like fashion, architecture, product design, etc.
Remember, while seeking inspiration is important, always keep the user’s needs and experiences at the core of your design. Always use these inspirations as a starting point and not a template. Your mobile app design idea should be a unique solution to your user’s specific needs.
To sum up
Designing a mobile application is a complex process that involves understanding the end user, implementing a visually satisfying design, and staying updated with the latest design trends. Consequently, translating a great idea into an intuitive and engaging app requires a deep understanding of UI/UX principles, as well as the ability to forecast and adopt upcoming trends. If you need guidance on app design, you can always contact us for a consultation — it’s completely free. Just click the button below and we’ll get back to you in 24 hours.