21 Steps for creating a minimalist UI design for your mobile app
Khloe Hunter / March 5, 2019 | 7 Mins Read
Minimalism is used to improve the user experience, increase size compatibility with various screen sizes and reduce the loading time. The minimalist approach is taken to enhance the app stickiness.
“Make it simple but make it significant”, this is one of my favorite quotes when it comes to designing.
The truth is that ‘simplifying’ something isn’t exactly a piece of cake. More than often, I come across this type of situation. I’d complete a perfectly fine piece of content (well, at least in my perspective) and the editor would mail me saying, “remove the last paragraph”, or “We could do fine without this line over here”. It’s always for the good though.
Similar is the case with an app’s UI.
Before we start with the steps to create a minimalist design for your app; It's essential to understand what the term 'minimalist' means and why 'minimalism' is essential for your mobile apps
Definition of minimalist design: 'A design that is simple, easy to understand and only contains necessary elements to remove any complexity in the app’s UI.'
So why should we use this approach in mobile app development? Minimalism is used to improve the user experience, increase size compatibility with various screen sizes and reduce the loading time. Companies and designers have started to embrace this rising trend due to facilities and comfort it brings for the end-users.
Your goal should be to create a concise, navigable and an aesthetic mobile app. The minimalist approach is taken to enhance the app stickiness. If you don't already know, app stickiness is the combination of user engagement and user retention to make sure that users continue to use your app without losing interest.
So what steps can you take to make your app more attractive, while keeping in mind the experience and usability?
Here are some methods that you can adapt to create a minimalist User interface (UI) for your mobile apps.
Incorporate white space
White space is also known as negative space that doesn't have any color, yet, it is an essential component from the designer's perspective. This blank space is essential for developing contrast, adding structure and focusing on the various design elements.
Have a quick look on the types of whitespace that are usually part of designing UIs:
Text white space: The spacing between lines and letters
Content whitespace: The area that separates columns and text.
Visual whitespace: The space around the images, graphics, and icons.
Layout whitespace: The spacing of paddings and margins
Below is an image showing an adequate amount of whitespace compared to no and too much whitespace.
Designers can use as much whitespace as they prefer, it all depends on the designer's expertise and how one utilizes the whitespace to make the design more attractive and approachable.
Here is how whitespace adds value to your app:
Emphasizing certain aspects of the design
Improve readability and usability
Divide and structure elements
Add elegance to the application
Remove Unnecessary Elements:
Before you continue to add any more details to your app design, step back and think first. "Is this element essential for my users?". If the answer is no, it’s best to leave it out of the User Interface. If you add too many elements, the final result is going to be a messy application that's hard to navigate and impossible to understand. When you have fewer design elements, the users can focus on the essential components that will help them achieve their goal.
Try to Use Fewer Colors
Using too many colors reduces the sophistication of your mobile apps and can repel users. By limiting the number of colors, you can add elegance to your design and invite users to engage with your app. For a minimalist design, designers can pick any one of the following color schemes.
Monochromatic color scheme
In the monochromatic color scheme, a single color is selected and its different color variants are used to fashion the app. Monochromatic colors are tints, shades, and tones of a single hu. You can change its temperature, contrast, brightness, and saturation to create different color pallets.
Analogous color scheme
Analogous colors are the colors that are next to each other in the color wheel. They work well with each other to create a serene and comfortable design. Analogous color schemes use three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and create a serene and comfortable design that is approachable and pleasing to the eyes.
Keep Balance and Harmony
Psychology says that the human mind is attracted to symmetry. The human brain is drawn towards faces and objects that follow the laws of symmetry. Humans love harmony and balance. By following this principle, mobile application designers can make their masterpiece more attractive and inviting. Designers should use the grid system to prevent their app from becoming a chaotic mess. Grids can be used to arrange the elements to be consistent and visually pleasing.
Use One Typeface
Some designers do injustice to their applications by opting for more than one typefaces. This mistake can practically ruin your app. For this reason, designers must know the difference between various typefaces and where to use them. The type of font used depends on the kind of content written and the experience that you want your users to have. Therefore,
mixing up more than one font can make the app look sloppy so to achieve the best results, test out the different type of fonts and different sizes; play around with the font length, spacing, style, weight and size till you find the perfect typeface that suits your app.
Here are some practices for good typography:
Chose the font wisely, a different type of content requires a different kind of font. Fonts can be used to express various feelings.
Use an appropriate font size- If too big, it will take too much screen space and destroy the appearance of an app. If too small, it will hurt the user's eyes and deteriorate the user experience.
One type of typeface
Use one typeface; Mixing too many fonts can make your design look sloppy.
Leading is the space between lines, and it should be adjusted according to the various screen sizes.
Color and contrast
Have you ever seen 'red' font on a green background? It gives quite a headache; doesn't it? Save your users from these headaches. Choose the right color contrasts for attractive mobile app development.
Use The Blur Effect
Using the blur effect is an excellent way to create a minimalistic design for the app UI. The blur effect allows you to work with the layers and the hierarchy of the app interface.
So as per the mobile application development best practices, this gives designers an opportunity to explore the mobile's flow, menu and overlay solutions. Some benefits of using the blur effect for the app interface are mentioned below:
Simplify the user flow
Blur effects give a clear understanding of an app's user flow. It blurs out the unnecessary elements so that users can focus on the vital information.
Direct the user's attention
Users will focus on the object that is in focus and ignore objects that are blurred or unclear.
Improve text readability
The content background and other elements can affect the readability of text. Blur effects can be used to add proper contrast between text and the background; this is an excellent strategy to make overlaid content more readable.
Make the content shine
Have you ever visited a site that was hard to navigate, advertisements covered the content, and it was impossible to find what you were looking for? What did you do? You probably abandoned the website and decided to see some other sites.
A minimalist mobile application will minimize this problem and deliver a good user experience.
By removing unnecessary elements, using proper colors and taking away extra content, it will help users find what they came for.
Another method is to highlight the vital content by using brighter colors or larger fonts. You can also use various color contrasts to make your app's user interface user-friendly.
Sleek and unified icons
Iconography is a visual language for the app content, features, and functionality. Icons are used to represent elements so that they can be recognized and understood easily. For example, the envelope is a widely accepted icon used to represent 'mail' similarly the house icon represents 'home,' and the inverted pencil represents 'editing.' Icons must have an element of simplicity.
Designers can also use stroke and filled icons to highlight active parts of the application. This handy for easier app navigation. Here are some tips to improve iconography for a minimalist user interface.
Convey a distinct message
An icon must convey its meaning within seconds; it should be understandable and memorable.
Be consistent while creating icons for your mobile application development. Maintain the same thickness, color, and curves.
Keep it simple
A picture tells a thousand words; there is no need to cram your icons, keep them simple and understandable.
Make sure that the navigation icons of your app are easy to find and easily understood. A magnifying glass icon is widely accepted as the search icon; if you choose to use something else, it will only lead to confusion and bad user experience. Similarly, a shopping cart icon is used for the intention of adding goods and making purchases, don't opt for anything else, it will only mislead the application users.
A minimalist UI seems easy to create. However, most designers end up removing content and elements which otherwise helped visitors to navigate and understand the app. Whether you're adding more content or intend to remove some, put yourself in the user's shoes. Ask yourself, 'does my app interface make things easier for users? And is it useful for getting the tasks done faster?'
Make amendments only where necessary and only when it aids your users. By combining meaningful and well-crafted layouts, you can create a fantastic app that will never go out of trend. If you open some of your favorite apps right now, you wouldn't be surprised to find minimalistic design elements here and there. Use of whitespace, elegant typography, simple navigation, stroke, and filled icons are some minimalist design approaches that can help you design apps that will last for a long time.
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Khloe Hunter is a Digital Marketing Executive for Appverticals. Her expert writing skills, enable her to convert complex information, into content that anyone can read. Her technical educational background, combined with a know-how of content marketing, gives her an edge over others in a variety of blog posts.