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mobile app trends

App Design Trends

App design styles aren’t static. Like most aspects of the digital space, app design is ever-evolving. 

While you may feel like you’ve found the best app design for your brand, finding inspiration from other successful apps can give you fresh ideas and concepts. Keeping up to date on app design trends helps you ensure your app remains relevant in terms of style and functionality as well as continues to appeal to your target audience.

Here are some popular app design trends that successful brands have tried and tested.

Four Mobile App Design Trends to Inspire Your Next Project

1. Split Screens

Split screen app design involves dividing the screen real estate into two or more sections horizontally or vertically. Each can display a different piece of content, making this feature useful for comparing information.

While split screens aren’t new, their popularity will likely increase as the need to boost efficiency and productivity while using apps grows. Some apps that leverage split screens in their design include:

  • Video conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, which allow users to view the active speaker alongside shared content or a presentation
  • Financial apps like Robinhood and eToro, which show real-time market data and portfolio information side by side
  • Ride-sharing apps like Uber that allow passengers to track the vehicle’s location and route while viewing the trip details, such as the payment amount and driver name

2. Accessibility and Inclusive Design

Accessibility is less of a trend and more of a necessity. It involves incorporating features that make your app more accessible to people with different disabilities.

Approximately 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. By leveraging accessible and inclusive design, you can reach a wider audience, provide a better user experience and improve your brand reputation.

Some accessibility features that developers incorporate into app design are:

  • Dynamic text size
  • Alternative text (alt text)
  • Keyboard navigation
  • Switch control
  • Gesture customizations
  • Voice-to-text and closed captioning

Many popular apps have utilized and reaped the benefits of accessibility features. These include:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Evernote
  • Apple apps
  • Google apps
  • Microsoft apps
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

3. Augmented Reality (AR)

AR has been around for decades, but it arguably achieved mainstream popularity with the release of the mobile game Pokémon Go. Other early uses of AR include virtual “try-ons” of products, such as watches and sunglasses.

Nowadays, developers have found uses for AR beyond gaming, and trying products on virtually has become more seamless and realistic thanks to advances in AR.

AR is effective as an app design element because it makes apps more engaging, interactive and immersive. With AR, users can interact with virtual objects in a real-life environment, creating captivating, unique interactions. 

Beyond the appeal of the new, AR also offers value by allowing users to visualize and preview objects before purchase, such as furniture and clothing.

Certain types of businesses can benefit the most from designing brands with an AR element. These include organizations in the following industries:

  • Interior Design and Home Improvement: AR allows users to visualize how furniture, home décor and other updates or improvements will look in a space.
  • Retail and E-commerce: Users can use AR to virtually try on clothing, accessories, footwear and more, improving their online shopping experience and helping with decision-making.
  • Travel, Tourism and Hospitality: Brands can make use of AR to create immersive and interactive tours of and guides to travel destinations, provide sneak previews of hotel accommodations and provide in-depth information on culturally or historically significant landmarks.

The following are some examples of apps that successfully incorporate AR technology:

  • IKEA Place: Allows users to select products from the IKEA catalog and virtually place them in their own homes
  • Amikasa: 3D floor planner that allows users to build and design homes using AR
  • Houzz: Visualize furniture and décor in users’ own homes
  • Outdooractive: Identify landforms and bodies of water using Skyline, a built-in AR feature  

4. Animation

When conceptualizing the best app design for your business, consider incorporating animation. Animation, whether 3D or 2D, continues to be popular and relevant. It provides much-needed movement to static app screens, catching users’ eyes and keeping app experiences engaging and fun.

There are plenty of ways to add animation to app design, such as:

  • Animating Buttons to Show Users Where to Tap: This makes the simple act of navigating through an app less confusing and more enjoyable.
  • Animating Elements: You can create a sense of motion by animating foreground or background elements.
  • Use Animation As Feedback: Animation can be used to tell users that their actions have registered. For instance, you could have a little heart emoji appear when a user connects with their friend’s app profile.

One example of an app that utilizes animation is Finch, an app that “gamifies” self-care. Every wellness activity the user completes gives their bird energy points. Once the bird gains enough of these points, it can go on a virtual adventure, shown via a simple animation of the bird going on a walk.

Animation is an app design trend suitable for brands in all industries and niches. Other apps that leverage animation in their app design to improve user engagement, aesthetics and engagement include:

  • Spotify
  • Duolingo
  • Headspace
  • Trello
  • Calm
  • Procreate
  • Evernote
  • Slack
  • Google Maps
  • Snapchat

The Importance of Staying Up to Date With Ever-Changing App Design Styles

As every professional app developer knows, engaging app design goes beyond the surface level. The best app design involves the perfect balance of visual and interactive elements to give users a captivating, intuitive and memorable user experience (UX).

Importantly, an app’s design should align with its purpose. For instance, retro-inspired illustrations and buttons shaped like emojis might be visually impactful, but they would look out of place in a telemedicine app. 

Just as app design styles evolve, so do user expectations. As technology advances, users will begin to expect more sophisticated, satisfying and entertaining experiences. By staying up to date on trends in app design, you can ensure that your app is aligned with your target audience’s expectations. In turn, this helps ensure that your app meets your user’s needs.

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