Downgrade Dominance – Taking a Minimalist Approach to App Design

Two Dam Creative

Minimalist design has taken over everything from interior decorating to technology.

In an increasingly cluttered world, people respond to the paired back, clear and concise design. This is particularly true in the world of mobile apps, where it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the breadth and depth of new apps coming out everyday, minimalist design creates a much more intuitive user experience.

Whether it’s Instagram, iTunes or a customer feedback app, minimalist design is increasingly adopted by designers and developers alike. Minimalist app design – for both apps and their plug-ins – makes it easy for users to navigate the task at hand through the use of clear visual cues. By simplifying the way that an app, and the process to achieve it’s purpose, is designed, the app becomes more functional and easy to use. We also know this to be true, as users generally want an app to do one thing, whether that thing is to tell them the weather, manage their finances, or find a date. The more intuitive it is to complete that task, the more satisfied the user will be with the app.

In order to achieve this, app designers use a number of techniques.


Creating Colour

The biggest principle of minimalist design is in regards to the use of colour. Using too many colours is overwhelming and complex. Using monochromatic, trichromatic or analogous colour schemes and plenty of white space simplifies what the user is seeing and allows you to highlight important steps.

For example, an app might use a white background with black and grey text and use blue as a highlight colour to emphasize activity. This makes it easy to guide the user through the process.

It’s best to use a black and white colour scheme with a single pop of colour.

When you design the app icon, you should use your highlight colour to create a bright design that will pop on the user’s home screen. (not every icon needs to be blue!)


Feeling Out Fonts

Another important aspect of minimalist design is the use of just one typeface.

Use one, simple typeface that is easy to read, and then use alterations in weight, style and size to add emphasis. Headlines should be big, black and bold to indicate importance and draw user’s attention. A good example of minimalist design headlines is Apple’s iTunes App.

Font hierarchy is also extremely important. If your body font is 14 pixels on one screen… it should be 14 pixels on all screens (yes, work in pixels, not points on an app).


Stroke and fill icons can be used to direct user experience in combination with a highlight color. Stroke icons are outlined icons used to indicated inactivity. Once an icon is selected, it becomes a filled icon to indicate that it is active.


Subtle Simplicity

User’s want the apps they use to be simple and intuitive. The idea of an easy to navigate, clean user experience is one of the reasons why Apple has seen so much success. Their products aren’t complicated or even that advanced, but the design elements they use make it easier for users to navigate potentially complex tasks using modern, clean visual cues.


Test, test, then test again…

The app designs we create at 2 Dam Creative are renowned for creating high quality user experiences. We only get to this stage by testing the app at every stage.

To ensure that we are designing for the app users and not our client, we use a myriad of tools. We run hands on user groups during early stages (wires, concept designs), then we use Invision once the designs are complete. Once the app is ready to be released, we add appee code into the app (takes 30 seconds!) and send the app out for BETA testing using Test Fairy.

This final tool allows us to really get a feel for how users interact with the app and what they like/don’t like. All before the final launch.

All of this may sound time consuming… and it is… but the final release will be far more rewarding for you and your client if you follow these simple rules.

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