Some time ago, it was normal to use lots of elements in mobile app design. But user behavior and preferences have drastically changed. Modern mobile app users prefer simplistic designs and easy-to-use interfaces. This shift in preferences has led UI/UX designers to create minimalist design concepts with limited elements but exceptional user experiences. In this article, we talk about the popular concept of minimalist design in mobile apps, its advantages, and best practices for incorporating it into your projects.
What is minimalist design?
Minimalist (or minimal) design is a design concept guided by the less is more principle. Minimalism in UI/UX design makes a mobile app simple and pleasant to use with a minimum number of design elements. A minimal user interface has all the elements needed for users to get cognitive experience, but these elements are basic. Let’s look at some popular mobile apps that feature brilliant minimal designs.
What benefits does minimal design bring?
If you’re not sure a minimal design is a good solution for your project, let’s have a look at some obvious advantages.
Faster loading speed
It’s not news that an app’s loading speed directly affects user satisfaction and the bounce rate. In fact, 46% of users consider waiting for an app or page to load to be the biggest turn-off when trying a new mobile app. Since minimalist app design has fewer design elements, minimalist apps usually load faster than apps with heavy designs.
The minimalist mobile app design has lots of white space and few elements on each screen. This means users aren’t overwhelmed by heavy elements and a knotty navigation system. And as users interact with fewer elements in minimalist apps, they have fewer chances of finding wrong navigation paths and getting confused.
Big apps with heavy designs require lots of actions. This means that apps with complex designs also require lots of maintenance. But if you make your app minimalist, you’ll get fewer issues with performance and can spend less on maintenance.
The visual part of an app is really important, but the text and the message a business wants to send to users are also significant. Since minimalist apps are better organized and have fewer distracting elements, it’s much easier for businesses to use them to deliver a message to target users. A clearer message, in turn, can help apps enhance brand value and even increase conversions.
Basic elements of minimalist design
Now that you know minimalist design has a lot of benefits for mobile apps, we can proceed to the particular elements that make this design concept look and feel minimalist.
Unified color schemes
One of the most important aspects of minimal design is a simple color scheme. Colors have a great impact on users’ emotions and an app’s stickiness. If an application has various bright or dark colors, it might make users feel confused. On the other hand, if you choose one color, the interface might seem boring and unattractive. To make your mobile app engaging and visually appealing, you can use monochromatic or analogous color schemes.
Monochromatic colors are created by changing a color’s shade, tone, or tint. Using monochromatic colors can make your interface look eye-pleasing and stylish at the same time. Below, you can see how monochromatic color schemes look:
Another way to make your interface look great and minimalist is to use analogous colors. Analogous colors are those located next to each other on the special color wheel shown below. Each set of three analogous colors consists of a dominant color, a supporting color, and a third color that’s usually a mix of the two previous colors. This variant works great for those who want to stick to several colors in the app but do it professionally.
Typography is one more important aspect of minimal apps. It can have both a positive or negative impact on any app design. Using multiple typefaces, for example, can give an unpleasant feeling and distract the user from the app. But if you choose your typography wisely, it can bring more attention and stickiness to the screen. To make the right decision when choosing typography for a mobile app, it’s better to follow common guidelines for iOS or Android.
For instance, Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines recommend using a single typeface. Apple provides two typeface families to use in iOS applications: San Francisco (sans serif) and New York (serif). They also provide guidelines on dynamic type sizes.
Google’s Material Design guidelines for Android apps also provide some typography suggestions:
Abundant white space
When creating minimalist designs, designers and developers are often focused on providing enough white space. White space (also known as negative space) is blank space on the app’s screen. The idea behind white space is to let the app “breathe” and to emphasize important design elements. Among its other benefits, white space:
- improves readability
- creates balance between elements
- attracts the human eyes to what’s different
- implies sophistication
Best practices to build a minimal design for a mobile app
Follow flat design principles
Flat design is a style of designing interfaces for iOS apps with simple two-dimensional elements. This style, unlike other design styles, focuses on avoiding gradients, shadows, or textures and features bright colors, open space, and visual hierarchy. Flat design helps all design elements look neat and take up less space and enhances the app’s overall usability. You can see an example of flat design below.
Don’t oversimplify the design
Yes, minimal design implies simplicity. But this concept works well only when a design has balance between simplicity and practicality. Minimalism doesn’t mean you need to oversimplify the interface. On the contrary, making the interface extremely simple can break the navigation flow and even decrease your app’s retention rate. So to make everything right, try to keep a balance and follow common design principles.
Remove unnecessary elements
One of the best practices for minimalist design is to ensure you add no unnecessary elements to the screen. Only add elements that serve a purpose.
Here are two tips when it comes to deciding which elements to keep and which to remove:
- Don’t add images unless they aid in making your message clear.
- Use simple words (and not too many) to communicate meaningful information.
Choose the right icons
Icons, when employed wisely, help designers cut down the need for content, enhance the visual appearance of the application, and add to its accessibility. Designing the right app icons and implementing them at the right places in your mobile app design is also an effective way to get higher profits. Here are some tips on icon design:
- Don’t use too many elements
- Try to avoid using text
- Say no to the idea of using two low-contrast colors simultaneously
- Embrace simplicity
- Create a unique design showing your app’s core feature
Rules for iOS apps:
Rules for Android apps:
The minimal app design has been a popular approach for some years now. It’s advisable for anyone who wishes to enter the UI/UX domain or design an application to focus on this concept and elevate their chances of success. To do so, you can refer to the rules and practices we’ve shared in this article. Or simply connect with our UI/UX design experts.