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App Design Trends With Examples: What Works and What Doesn't

In the ever changing field of app design, it's critical to keep with recent trends that make engaging, user-friendly, and visually appealing applications. Not all trends are equally useful and some may even negatively impact the user experience. For example, simple design improves user experience by lessening cognitive load up to 60%, making apps simpler and more enjoyable (UX Planet). Likewise, using dark mode, preferred by 82% of users for its less eye strain and contemporary appearance can also improve battery performance by 30% on OLED devices (Android Authority). Despite that some trends do not result in good outcomes like complex navigation leads to dissatisfaction causing 70% of users leave an app due to bad usability (TechCrunch).

This article delves into these and other current app design trends, highlighting what works and what doesn't, with practical examples to illustrate each point, thereby guiding designers to create applications that captivate and retain their audience.

What Works in App Design?

Minimalistic Design

Simple design emphasizes on clearness and gets its appeal from plenty of whitespace, neat layouts, limited colors and elements that form an easytounderstand and visually pleasant user interface. This strategy lowers the mental effort for users to understand information and move around in the application, which boosts usability. However, overuse of minimalism can sometimes lead to a lack of personality or essential information, where functionality might be compromised for the sake of aesthetics. Striking a balance is key to maintaining both form and function in app design. This approach is characterized by:

  • Clean layouts with ample whitespace

  • Limited color palettes

  • Simple, intuitive navigation

  • Removal of unnecessary elements

Example: Google Keep

Minimalism continues to be a dominant trend in app design, focusing on simplicity and usability. Google Keep exemplifies minimalistic design with its clean interface, intuitive navigation, and limited use of colors and elements, ensuring users can focus on their notes without distractions.

Why It Works:

  • Reduces cognitive load on users.

  • Enhances clarity and ease of navigation.

  • Improves performance by reducing unnecessary elements.

  • Focuses user attention on key features and content

  • Creates a sleek, modern aesthetic

Dark Mode

Dark mode is quite popular thanks to its stylish look and practical advantages. Switching the screen's colors to darker shades can lessen eye fatigue, especially in dimly lit situations. It also helps prolong battery life on devices with OLED displays, as black pixels use less power. But without proper execution, dark modes can be counterproductive making it difficult for users to read text if the contrast levels are not designed properly. To implement this feature successfully, one should pay close attention to color selection and the legibility of text.

Example: Instagram

Instagram's dark mode is a prime example of a well-implemented dark theme. It enhances the visual experience of browsing photos and videos, especially at night, by reducing the glare from the screen. The app uses high contrast ratios to ensure text remains readable and clear, avoiding common pitfalls such as insufficient contrast or clashing colors. Instagram's successful implementation of dark mode highlights the importance of careful design choices. By ensuring that text remains readable and colors are well-balanced, the app delivers both aesthetic and functional benefits to its users.

Why It Works:

  • Enhances visual ergonomics by reducing eye strain.

  • Extends battery life on devices with OLED screens.

  • Offers a modern and stylish appearance.

Instagram's successful implementation of dark mode highlights the importance of careful design choices. By ensuring that text remains readable and colors are well-balanced, the app delivers both aesthetic and functional benefits to its users.


Microinteractions are refined animations or responses that react to user gestures in an app. These slight, typically unseen elements can greatly improve the user interface by crafting a more engaging and swift response. Microinteractions guide users through actions, provide visual confirmation of completed tasks, and add a layer of personality to the app. Yet, it's important to apply animations moderately, excessive use can divert attention and could potentially reduce app functionality by causing interface lags.

Example: Facebook

Facebook's "like" button animation is a prime example of effective microinteractions. When a user taps the "like" button, it animates briefly, providing immediate feedback that the action was registered. This small interaction enhances user satisfaction by acknowledging their input and making the app feel more dynamic and alive.

Why It Works:

  • Provides immediate feedback, improving user experience.

  • Adds personality and delight to the app.

  • Helps guide user behavior subtly.

By incorporating well-designed microinteractions, apps can enhance usability, provide feedback, and create a more engaging and pleasant user experience. Facebook’s effective use of microinteractions demonstrates how small details can significantly improve an app's responsiveness and user satisfaction.

Voice User Interface (VUI)

Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) are becoming popular since more people want a handsfree method to handle their devices. VUIs make things easier and are great for helping users do tasks, get information, and manage devices using voice commands. If done correctly, VUIs can make the user experience better by giving a straightforward, effective, and clear way to interact. But if done badly like not understanding voice commands or context properly, this can lead to user frustration.

Example: Google Assistant

Google Assistant is a standout example of a robust voice user interface. It allows users to perform a wide range of tasks, such as setting reminders, sending texts, playing music, and controlling smart home devices, all through voice commands. The Assistant can understand context, manage multi-step commands, and offer personalized responses, making interactions more natural and efficient.

Why It Works:

  • Facilitates hands-free operation, enhancing accessibility.

  • Provides a natural and efficient way to interact with apps.

  • Supports multitasking and on-the-go usage.

Google Assistant’s success demonstrates how a well-implemented VUI can transform the user experience by offering a hands-free, efficient, and contextually aware interaction method. This not only improves accessibility but also adds significant value to the overall functionality of the app.

Personalization and Customization

Customizing an app according to specific preferences or actions can greatly enhance user involvement and contentment. By providing relevant material and functions that match a user's likes and routines, apps can produce a more meaningful and pleasurable. However, excessive or incorrect customization can seem intrusive and annoying for the users, which may result in less engagement.

Example: Spotify

Spotify's personalized playlists and recommendations have become a cornerstone of its user experience, keeping listeners engaged with content tailored to their tastes. The app offers a variety of personalized playlists, such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar, which are generated based on the user’s listening history and preferences. Additionally, Spotify’s algorithm suggests songs and artists that align with the user's musical tastes, creating a continually evolving and personalized music library.

Why It Works:

  • Increases user engagement and satisfaction.

  • Encourages user loyalty by providing a tailored experience.

  • Helps in better content discovery and user retention.

Spotify’s success with personalization highlights the importance of leveraging user data to create meaningful and relevant experiences. By understanding and predicting user preferences, apps can not only enhance satisfaction and engagement but also build a loyal user base that appreciates the tailored content and interactions.

What Doesn't Work in App Design

Overcomplicated Navigation

A frequent issue in app design is confusing navigation, where the user interface gets crowded with excess options, menus, and controls. This confusion can overwhelm users, leading to difficulties in locating and using features effectively. If the navigation is not userfriendly, users may get annoyed. This results in a negative user experience and they might stop using the app entirely.

Example: Samsung's Early One UI

Early versions of Samsung's One UI were heavily criticized because of their overly complicated navigation. The interface was filled with many menus and settings layers, which made it challenging for users to find particular features fast. This extreme complexity confused users, causing annoyance and a hard learning process. Rather than offering a smooth and efficient user experience, the navigation layout blocked users from interacting with the app successfully.

Why It Doesn't Work:

  • Confuses users with too many options and steps.

  • Increases the learning curve and reduces usability.

  • Leads to user frustration and potential abandonment of the app.

Early versions of Samsung's One UI exemplify how overcomplicated navigation can negatively impact user experience. A crowded interface with too many options makes the app less easy to use. This often leads to user disappointment and lowers user retention rates. To make an app both useful and fun to use, it's important to simplify controls and aim for logical design.

Excessive Notifications

Excessive notifications in apps can quickly become a nuisance rather than a helpful feature. While notifications are intended to keep users informed and engaged, bombarding them with constant alerts, especially if they are irrelevant or intrusive, can have detrimental effects on user experience and app retention.

Example: Some Shopping Apps

While notifications can keep users informed, excessive or irrelevant notifications can be intrusive and annoying. Many shopping apps bombard users with constant alerts about sales, new products, and promotions, often leading users to disable notifications or uninstall the app altogether. While these notifications aim to attract attention and drive sales, they often interrupt users at inconvenient times or with information that isn't immediately relevant to their interests. This practice can lead users to feel overwhelmed and annoyed, ultimately prompting them to either disable notifications or uninstall the app altogether.

Why It Doesn't Work:

  • Interrupts users and creates annoyance.

  • Can lead to notification fatigue and app uninstallation.

  • Reduces the perceived value of important notifications.

To avoid these pitfalls, app developers should adopt a strategic approach to notifications, ensuring they are timely, relevant, and personalized to user preferences. By respecting users' attention and focusing on delivering valuable information, apps can maintain engagement without overwhelming their audience with unnecessary alerts.

Non-Standard UI Elements

Special UI elements may create serious problems in application design, especially if they stray from established user interface rules. While creativity is vital, using different design styles can baffle users who are used to normal interfaces. This situation can affect how users feel about the app and how quickly they adopt it.

Example: Windows 8 Metro UI

Windows 8 launched the Metro UI, known for using live tiles instead of regular icons and menus. This new look sought to create a consistent user experience on all devices. But, it strayed from typical UI practices. Many users who were used to ordinary visuals and actions found it puzzling, which caused a lot of complaints and significant changes in later versions of Windows.

Why It Doesn't Work:

  • Confuses users who are familiar with standard UI conventions.

  • Increases the learning curve unnecessarily.

  • Can lead to poor adoption and negative user feedback.

To mitigate these challenges, app designers should balance innovation with usability. While it's essential to innovate and differentiate, it's equally important to maintain consistency with established UI conventions to ensure a smooth and intuitive user experience. User testing and feedback are invaluable in identifying potential usability issues early in the design process, allowing for adjustments that enhance usability and overall user satisfaction.

Slow Load Times and Lag

Slow app load times and poor performance can badly harm user experience. Users can become frustrated and dissatisfied. If an app doesn't load fast or respond rapidly to user actions, it doesn't meet the anticipated standards of seamless and effective operation.

Example: Early Versions of Facebook App

Early Facebook app versions were known for their slow performance, featuring long wait times and regular slow responses. People commonly faced slow load times when trying to view news feeds or put up updates, or while switching between different parts of the app. This poor response time led to user frustration, as they anticipated an efficient and speedy experience from this widelyused platform. Over a period, Facebook identified these problems and made substantial upgrades to improve its app's functionality which led to increased user happiness and loyalty.

Why It Doesn't Work:

  • Causes user frustration and impatience.

  • Leads to higher abandonment rates.

  • Reflects poorly on the app's overall quality.

 Developers need to make app performance optimization a priority in order to fix sluggish load times and performance problems. This involves improving code, cutting down on unneeded requests, and using cache systems to speed up load times. Regular checks and tracking of the app's performance will identify and fix potential issues before they affect users'. Prioritizing quick and effective app performance will make the user experience better and keep users interested longer.

Inconsistent Design Language

Inconsistent design language within apps can create significant challenges for users, particularly when they encounter varying styles, colors, and navigation patterns across different interfaces. This lack of cohesion undermines usability and diminishes the overall user experience, hindering users' ability to navigate and interact with the app effectively.

Example: Early Android Apps

In the early stages of Android development, many apps exhibited inconsistent design languages. Each app developer had the freedom to implement their own button styles, color schemes, and navigation structures without strict adherence to platform guidelines. As a result, users encountered apps with disparate interfaces that lacked visual coherence and consistency. This inconsistency made it challenging for users to learn and adapt to new apps quickly, as they had to reorient themselves with each new interface they encountered.

Why It Doesn't Work:

  • Creates confusion and reduces usability.

  • Prevents users from developing familiarity with the app.

  • Detracts from the overall user experience and app cohesion.

App developers need to follow certain established design guidelines and principles, like Google's Material Design for Android apps, to solve issues with inconsistent design language. Uniformity in visual parts, interaction models, and navigation setups helps users to use the apps more easily and improves their overall engagement. User testing and feedback collection can help spot parts where design inconsistency could affect performance. This enables developers to polish and better app interfaces for a more unified user experience.


Understanding the trends that work and those that don't is crucial for designing successful apps. Successfull app design trends improve use, involvement, and user happiness when applied considerately. The aim is to balance good looks with usefulness, always focusing on the user's needs and the purpose the app. As trends change, the top apps will be those that adjust while keeping a strong focus on user experience. By keeping up to date with these trends and critically assessing their use, designers can generate apps that are attractive and very functional as well as convenient for users.

Established in 2013, Royex Technologies is a leading mobile app development company in Dubai, that provides innovative solutions for small, medium, and large-scale companies. We specialize in responsive web development, mobile app development, CRM integration, AI solutions for website & mobile applications, and many more. Our extensive experience in mobile app development will help you to take your business to a high level.

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