Mobile app design is no longer just a concern for big brands; an increasing number of small businesses are planning to launch their own app. The ‘Millennial’ generation is increasingly viewing mobile apps as ‘must-haves’ and it is normal for the average millennial to have 20+ apps on their Smartphone.
This is excellent news for prospective mobile app designers but it’s important to note that the levels of expectation amongst customers have also increased. Over half of millennials say that a bad mobile app experience would make them less likely to purchase an organisation’s goods/services. As a result, you need to be up to date when it comes to mobile app design which is why we’re showing you 5 key trends you need to follow.
1. Scalable typography
One of the best ways to lose customers is by designing a mobile app where the font and style doesn’t fit on their screen. The rise of ‘phablets’ (Smartphones with a screen size halfway between a regular mobile phone screen and a tablet screen) and wearables have made things trickier for designers.
Design by Typelab D
As it happens, Google and Apple have introduced new typefaces which designers can use for their platforms. A prime example is Apple’s San Francisco Compact typeface which fits perfectly on an Apple Watch as it allows plenty of space between letters while still being legible. The challenge for mobile app designers is to implement scalable typography to ensure their app fits a screen regardless of its size.
2. Emphasis on swiping
Through trial and error, mobile app designers have discovered that swiping is the best way to navigate any app. There were attempts to implement tapping but in the end, the buttons were usually too small to hit accurately which caused immense frustration among users. In recent times, the majority of apps allow users to swipe to navigate and we expect practically every mobile app to feature this mode of navigation in the future.
Design by doggolz for Everyware
3. Functional animation
Mobile app designers have been using animation as a means of making their product stand out for some time but it was typically limited to games. Times have changed and now there is an emphasis on animation as a means of enhancing UX.
Designers will use animated responses to users’ actions as a means of making UX more interactive and dynamic. Examples of new techniques to be used include highlighting, quick transition between screens, button morphing and zooming effects. Users will not only be able to understand the principles of an app, they will get a better ‘feel’ for it and enjoy it a lot more.
4. Simple interface
Mobile app design is quickly becoming less about awesome visuals and more about functionality and ease of use. The market is inundated with incredible looking apps that are tough to navigate and in the end; the user gets frustrated and dumps the app.
Rather than just being a backdrop for other elements, blank space is becoming its own design element. High quality designers have the ability to highlight and maximise this ‘empty’ space which in turn draws the user’s eye to other things on the screen.
Card layouts are becoming very popular in mobile app design because they can make data look attractive and ensure users are just one action away from accessing more detailed information. When you place information in cards, it is easy for users to spot what they are interested in and act accordingly. Trello is an excellent example of card design in action while Tinder (a dating app) involves cards and swipe navigation. This combination means you can find whatever you need on the site by using just one finger.
5. Emphasis on branding
Small businesses now understand the importance of establishing a brand identity and mobile app design is changing to highlight that fact. Companies are starting to view their apps as a yet another method of growing their brand. One of the best ways to do this is through storytelling.
Great mobile app design can tell customers a good story without including a sales pitch. As is the case with any great story, your app should be useful and memorable. Large corporations such as Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks have used storytelling to great effect on their mobile apps and this has had a positive impact on their corporate brand.
Mobile app trends actually haven’t changed that much in the last year or so and we expect the emphasis on functionality, simplicity and branding to continue for the foreseeable future. As new devices like the phablet and wearables continue to emerge, mobile app designers must continue to find ways to ensure their app looks great on any device. We also expect things such as loyalty programs, location-based notifications and other elements that improve UX to remain high on the list of ‘things to include’ in any mobile app.