A Study of Trends in Mobile Design

A Study of Trends in Mobile Design

For the past decade, the world has undergone a massive shift as the result of the mobile app invasion.

These days, you don’t have to look further than your hand to admit the role played by mobile technology in the modern society. The way we work, play and live have all been influenced by the power and pace of mobile. 

Although the modern mobile device is a distant relative to the telephone, ultimately it’s a communication and information device with an advanced design. Considering mobile devices more as mini computers and less as telephones was a difficult shift in our perception.  

Insight into mobile design history

“Good design is innovative”
 (The Ten points of Good Design – Dieter Rams)

Influenced by technological and cultural backgrounds, new trends tend to change and establish new rules in any field, the mobile industry is not an exception.

To be able to make some predictions regarding the future of mobile design, you should first know when it all started and where it all came from. 


iPhone revolution

In 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s iPhone for the first time, the mobile industry was flipped upside down. Being inspired by ideas expressed by German designer Dieter Rams, Apple developers found iPhone as the perfect embodiment of Ram’s principles expressed in his work Ten Points of Good Design

 “Good design must be useful. Good design is aesthetic design. Good design makes a product understandable.” 

Thus, iPhone design had to be natural and intuitive for most users, at least during the transition between an analog and a digital society. The digital interfaces since the introduction of the Macintosh featured skeuomorphic graphic elements mimicking real-life ones: a digital clock which replicates an old alarm-clock, the camera icon which looks like a glass lens, and so on. 

                                 Image source:   http://www.apple.com/iphone/compare/

                                 Image source: http://www.apple.com/iphone/compare/


Flat Design is not just about aesthetics

Microsoft mobile operating system may never take the volumes of iOS and Android, but it definitely managed to contribute to the mobile design.

The time when Microsoft introduced Windows 8 with its “authentically digital” interface started a new page in the mobile app visual design. Microsoft’s Swiss-inspired interface emphasized clean typography, flat planes, and bright palette instead of non-essential elements.

Flat gives much more sense to content; it gives clarity, among many other things, and allows us to get rid of all realistic effects, leaving only what is really essential.

It clearly states that gadget can keep its high functionality without overwhelming the eye with too much visual information. 


Google Material Design

In 2014, Google introduced its material design, a visual language that was based on the tactile reality. The material design established principles for animation, content, layout, and brought a large number of visual components. 

Tendencies of UI & UX

Most companies around the world are aware that design is a crucial factor that influences the potential success of any product and service. When it comes to mobile applications, the situation looks very similar.

Considering that the average person spends at least two hours a day on a mobile device, just a nice visual content is not enough to stay interesting for potential users. The key features of the mobile design are hiding in the notions of UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) which are combined to deliver a pleasurable experience to any type of user. Thus, all the recent mobile apps with interactive and user-friendly design gain most of the attention. 

Every year is dominated by a particular design tendency based on a feature that will most likely dominate the market for a particular period of time.


Currently, there are several noticeable trends that we need
to look out for

Power of Simple Navigation

The ideas expressed by Dieter Rams in his Ten Points of Good Design are relevant also in 2017. “Good design is as little design as possible” – that’s what users expect from new gadgets. Studies show that most of the mobile users love simple navigation.

Mobile apps with clean interface, clear typography and pleasant aesthetics are the ones liked by users the most. Simple navigation surely leads to uninterrupted, user-friendly and smooth user experience.


Motion App Design/Functional Animation

Having entered the market in 2015, functional animation remains one of the major trends according to leading UI/UX designers. The main idea is to serve both logical and entertaining purposes. Thus, functional animation allows making your UX more dynamic and interactive by means of numerous visual effects. 

Functional animation aims to let user understand the application and feel it from the inside. 


Card Layouts

Card layouts are one of the most popular ways to add dynamics to your UX. While the proliferation of card-based layouts is quite recent, the design isn’t actually that new. Despite convenient data boxes, attractive design pattern, and compatibility with various mobile devices, this trend doesn’t look as innovative as before.

The Pinterest design with its modern look and fast loading opportunity seem to be a modern alternative to cards. Is there still a place for card-based design in 2017? We will see…


Fast colors & Simple Theme

Already in 2016 mobile designers made their color choices in favor of simple color schemes that emphasize the soft contrast. This trend remains relevant in 2017, as a natural consequence of the overall minimalism taking over flat the mobile app design. Layouts with various shades of one color, white typography and contrast elements tend to stay in trend for a while. If you are in doubts which color to choose, try Greenary, a symbol of a strong connection with nature. In 2017, the color experts at Pantone named this fresh and zesty yellow-green shade their Color of the Year. 

Let’s don’t forget about gradients, which made their way back into mobile design, this time applying high-contrast complimentary colors to develop an eye-catching visual style of the user interface.

There are many options to use gradients, such as linear or radial. Thanks to a wide range of shades and colors, any content can be enriched with a conceptual depth.

Many designers apply gradients instead of a background image, seeing a strong potential of this design concept. The gradual transition from dark to soft colors along with minimum iconography and imagery create the mind-blowing overall aesthetics that does not overwhelm users. 


Wearables are here to stay

The launch of the Apple Watch inspired designers to create the whole category of app designed wearables. In fact, customization of mobile app designs is becoming the next big thing in the world of mobile technology. 

The major design principle eligible for wearable apps is ‘glanceability’.  The UI should be designed in such a way to deliver only the content that user is expecting to see in an easy for interpretation manner within a single glance.



Don’t know what micro-interactions are? Being the basis for boosting UX, micro-interactions are micro details that tell you what the result of your action is. This can be a small sound or a single click, for example, when you ‘like’ something on Facebook. 

In the end, the design seems to hide in every detail, but we also should see the larger picture. In the end, a mobile app is not just about great aesthetics, but also about a successful engagement and conversion of forms and functionality.

How to stay in trend?

There are some moments in life when you are struggling to create something?

That moment when you are having the so-called creative block, use of one of these resources to get your design on

Dribbble is a so-called social network for the web and graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, and other creative types. The resource enables communication between creative personalities by means of small screenshots of their projects. 

Pinterest is a popular design content for finding a killer UI design. You’ll definitely find your inspiration in one of numerous design ideas posted on this web resource.

Producthunt is a web resource where you can find the information on the latest product releases from many fields, including mobile design. 

UCreative is a hub for design-related content for those in the design field. In the “Inspiration” section you’ll see the works of other artists, from re-imagining pop culture to fan art trends in design. 

Behance is a large network of talented designers who can create and post their portfolios there, as well as communicate with other people engaged in the design industry. 

VolourLovers serves as a perfect color inspiration resource for those who are struggling to get the perfect color combination.

Notcot.org is the community site featuring the finest designs of professional artists and amateurs. 

Vandelay Design Blog is the design blog created by Steven Snell who is regularly posting design inspiration showcases for other artists.

Future of mobile design

The mobile design is an exciting world to keep an eye on. Over the last decade, the whole industry has grown and developed out of the design concepts.

Even though, it may seem we’ve seen everything, we keep wondering what to expect from mobile design in five years from now.

Considering a viewpoint expressed by Tom Emrich, hyper-personalized experiences will become the norm, because the database of all users will be collected automatically to just deliver recommendations on their behalf. This kind of evolution of mobile apps may lead to the point when mobile app design will be incorporated strictly according to the certain parameters, criteria, and goals.

Despite the high chance of probability, no one can say for sure what hides in the future for us, one thing is certain: we will definitely be talking about the world of mobile design again.