A Beginner’s Guide to Designing Minimal Apps - Appinventiv
A Beginner’s Guide to Designing Minimal Apps
By Shrikant Srivastava
November 5, 2019 2. min read
Last update on: November 19, 2019

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There was a time when adding too many elements into our mobile apps was a norm. But, with time, user behavior has changed. 

Users have started inclining towards minimal interactions and elements; hoping to interact with limited things while enjoying the same level of services. 

This changed need, in turn, has made it imperative for mobile app designers to  incorporate the concept of minimal app design and build engaging designs with limited elements. 

In this article, we will talk about the much talked about designing concept starting with the simplified definition to what is minimalism.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism in app design, as depicted from the name, is described as a process that operates on the ‘less is more’ principle. Here, the least possible elements are added to your app design, such that it forms the most atomic form of the application. Meaning, you cannot achieve the core functionality of the application on removing elements further.

The concept has gained a huge momentum in the UI/UX design world because of the number of benefits it offers.

Benefits of Minimal Design in App Design Process

1. Delivers a Polished Message

When multiple elements are added to a screen, it is likely to confuse users and make  it hard for them to understand the core value you wish to deliver. But, on the flip side, minimalism, when added to the mobile app interface makes it nearly impossible for users to not be able to understand what message you wish to deliver.

2. Eases Navigation Process

Another reason why minimalist web and mobile app design is going viral is that it enhances app navigation.

Users interact with less elements on a screen. So, there’s less chances of them finding an alternate navigation path and get distracted.

3. Requires Less Maintenance

Since the time, effort, and cost required for app maintenance varies with the no. of elements available on the screen, the value gets lowered in the case of minimalist UX design.

4. Enhances Brand Value

Last but not least, a minimalist app design helps brands increase their app stickiness. Through the design concept, users are able to stick to the interface for long, and all the while, their interest keeps spiking. 

Knowing the benefits of using minimal UI design, I am sure you would be keen to get started with the implementation of it in your app design. 

But, wait!

Before asking your hired app development company to follow Minimal Design approach, it will be useful to get a head start by looking into how different apps are leveraging advantages from it. 

Popular Apps Using Minimal Design Concept

  • Google Calendar

    Minimal design concept in google calender

    Google calendar uses the grid layout to show all the information in a simplified and organized style. Also, analogous color scheme is opted to give a fresh and positive look to the interface.

  • Instagram

    Minimal design concept in instagram

    Instagram embraces the concept of white space and added the simplest form of icons to give a pleasant feel to the target user base.

  • Airbnb

    Minimal design concept in Airbnb

    In Airbnb, a single typography is being used to make the app interface look clutter-less. Also, icons are used smartly to define a purpose.

  • Medium

    Minimal design concept in medium

    The typography, photos, and every elements are used in a grid format in the Medium application. 

  • Lyft

    Minimal design concept in lyft

    Lyft is an apt example of how to add analogous color scheme into your app design plan to bring out the best outcomes without investing heavily in terms of app design cost.

    With this covered, let’s dive deeper into the technicalities of Minimal designing – starting with the core features of Minimalism design concept to keep an eye on.

Characteristics of Minimal App Design

1. Simplicity

A minimal app design uses less and not complicated elements, which gives a simple and clean look to the application.

2. Clarity

It not only looks simple, but also simplifies the process of getting an understanding of the core app purpose.

3. Functionality of Each Element

Every element on the app screen performs some action, and not just make the app look attractive.

4. Expressive Visual Hierarchy

The elements in the case of minimal app design are placed such that they showcase a visual hierarchical structure.

5. Higher Attention Ratio to Proportions and Composition

The UI/UX design is created by keeping The Golden Ratio into consideration.

While these are the traits that an application designing through Minimal design approach shows, let’s turn towards the elements it compose of.

Elements of Minimal Design to Watch Out for While App Development

  • Color Scheme

    One of the primitive elements of minimal design is the color scheme.

    The type and quantity of colors you pick for your app’s interface leaves a major impact on the target user base, on the emotional front. If your application has too bold or too many colors at the same place, the app might seem cluttered and confusing. While, on the flip side, calm colors or a single color on the interface might make the app appear boring and affect user retention rate.

    In such a scenario, the two ways you can build engaging app interface are:-

    • Use Monochromatic Colors Scheme – Multiple colors are created from changing the hue brightness and saturation of the same color; making it easy on the eyes.
    • Opt Analogous Colors Scheme – Three adjacent colors on the color wheel are used to create different aspects of the application. 
  • Typography

    Another element that gives a different aspect to minimal designs is Typography. Defined as the technique of representing written words, it improves communication between users and the app interface.

    If picked wisely, it can bring more eyeballs on your app screen. While, on the other side, it can give a disorganized and negative feel to the users, especially when going with multiple typography fonts. 

    In such a scenario, having knowledge of the best typography tools as well as the idea of how many typography one should consider for building a sophisticated look is necessary.

  • White Space

    When talking about implementing minimal design in apps world, another element that designers and developers need to focus upon is the white space. Considered as the space between text lines, it gives a clear and clutterless impression to the app interface; making users feel positive about interacting with the page.

  • Enhancement

    Enhancement is yet another element that builds up minimalistic design in mobile app world. That means, the way you bring more focus on a particular image or text while multiple being present on the page.

Now as know what exactly Minimal design in app means and which and how apps are introducing it into their app design, let’s look into some tips and practices you can consider to create minimalistic interfaces of your application.

Best Practices to Build Minimal Design for Your App Effortlessly

  • Go for Flat Design

    Following Flat Design in your app design is the foremost method to introduce minimal design in your application.

    A Flat design, unlike other designing styles, focuses on using limited 2D elements and avoiding shadows, textures, or gradients. This makes it easier for the designed images and other visual elements look neat, take less space, and enhance usability in the interface.

    Learn more about Flat design via this video:-

    /li>
  • Make a Grid Layout

    Another factor that every UI/UX designer must consider while creating minimal app UI designs is Grid layout.

    Grid Layout

    The layout not just adds convenience to the app interface, but also highlights the visual elements. It also serves designers with an ease of maintaining the same feel throughout the page in case of responsive design.

  • Remove Extra Elements

    One of the best practices for minimalist design is to ensure that no unnecessary element is added to the screen. Meaning, only those elements are introduced to a screen that serves a purpose there.

    Now, when it comes to deciding which elements to keep in the design and which one to remove, here are the two tips to keep an eye on:-

    • Do not add images unless they aid in making your message clear to others.
    • Use simple and limited words to communicate, such that meaningful information is being served to the audience.
  • Do not Oversimplify Design Elements

    Simplicity leads to minimalism. However, this does not mean that you have to oversimplify your app design.

    This is because an over-simplified user interface can make it difficult for users to understand the purpose of your application. Also, it can break the navigation flow, which can further result in lower app engagement and retention rate.

    So, it is a must for UI/UX designers to ensure that they keep a balance between simplicity and minimalism while designing their mobile application. 

  • Employ Negative Space

    Negative space, i.e., the white space created due to removal of extra elements from the interface, is the backbone of the minimal design. 

    This element, when employed smartly, plays a crucial role in preventing distraction, increasing engagement, and delivering the right message to customers. However, this is possible only when you focus on the following requisites:-

    • Content to be on the left side.
    • Focus on Hierarchy of elements.
    • Interaction made simple, without compromising on information.
    • Variations in negative space maintained for different resolutions.
  • Pick 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 the accessibility.

    Pick Right Icons for Mobile App So, 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.
  • Write Crispy Content

    As already shared in the ‘Negative space’ pointer, writing simple and succinct text copy improves the app metrics. An extension of it would be to express your thoughts with limited yet meaningful and catchy words.

  • Go for Bold Typography

    Typography in app UI design, just like icons and other visual elements, also helps in enjoying minimalism in app design. Especially in the form of bold typography.

    The bold typography shifts users’ attention to the focused words and helps in crafting a high visual experience. So, do not forget to introduce them into your app design plan.

  • Embrace the Idea of Contrast

    Using contrast elements helps designers create a visual hierarchy and bring attention on particular design elements. So, it is again a good practice to invest your time and effort into building a contrast interface.

    When talking about embracing the power of contrast, it is good to introduce black, white, or dark backgrounds with bright and colored typography and pictures.

  • Use Limited Colors

    Using too many colors on the same app screen leave a negative impact on users. So, to ensure that your design imparts a positive vibe and engages a wider audience, use limited colors. The best way of which is to use different shades of the same color. 

    Gradient

    Likewise, using bright colors alongside soothing and complementary hues, simple typography, and less-complicated animations can also help you achieve minimalism in mobile app design.

  • Focus on Concise and Intuitive Navigation

    When it comes to working upon the navigation element, many designers often turn towards techniques like hiding some part of the navigation. This might help to keep the design minimal but reduces the discoverability of menu elements. This makes users confused somewhere in their journey and fail to experience the kind of user experience you wish to offer.

    So, it is necessary to go with the philosophy, “measure thrice, cut once” while designing your app navigation.

  • Embrace Functional Animation

    Another factor to watch out for while ensuring minimal design in the app is to embrace the idea of functional animation. 

    This element of motion design is added to the user interface as a part of any functionality. And is focused on improving discoverability and delivering a meaningful purpose, without asking for more space. 

  • Follow Operating System Design Guidelines

    Both Apple and Google has set rules around the type of design that a standard application should have. Considering those design guidelines while introducing minimalism in your application can also be an effective way to ensure higher success rate.

  • Ditch Some Rules

    Last but not the least, bending some rules of minimalism design is also a good practice. This is so because when you break some rules, you get the freedom to experiment with your design and add creativity to it, aiding in bringing more eyeballs on your app page.

Conclusion

Minimal app design has been a popular approach for some years now and is likely to be one of the UI/UX trends for 2020 as well. So, it is advisable for everyone who wishes to enter into the UX/UI domain or are getting their application designed to focus on this concept and elevate the chances of success. Something for which you can refer to the rules and practices shared in this article. Or simply, connect with our UI/UX design experts.

Shrikant Srivastava
Shrikant Srivastava
VP Technology
In search for strategic sessions?.
Let us understand your business thoroughly and help you
strategies your digital product..

Recent Articles: