5 Trends for Mobile App Design in 2018

Some companies–even some larger ones–have been dragging their feet about getting fully invested in mobile apps. In 2018, that’s not really an option anymore: as customers become more comfortable with mobile security, mCommerce will only grow, as this infographic demonstrates.

Since we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s a great time to check out what I see as the most interesting trends for mobile design in 2018.

Forward-thinking Design

While the focus remains on a seamless user experience, mobile app design is starting to get a bit more daring. I predict mobile apps will become even more inventive and striking, with ease of use being augmented by the need to stand out and be remembered.

Innovative Interface

The ubiquitous hamburger menu has become a controversial UI tool with a number of pros and cons. Sure, it helps standardize navigation within the small screens of mobile devices. At the same time, research is showing that a good chunk of people don’t even realize those three horizontal lines are relevant at all … and that can seriously reduce user engagement.

Hamburgers aren’t going away any time soon, but expect to see more designers experimenting with alternative navigation options such as tabs or floating action buttons. The new iOS 3D-touch technology could open up a whole new realm of possibilities in-app navigation.

While we’re on the subject, card-based UI will be around for a while, as well. By splitting data into more accessible bundles, card-based interfaces help organize large amounts of different content easily. Designers will experiment, but it’s still an ideal way to deliver in-app information and content.

Material Design

Google introduced material design in 2014 as a way of providing simplified and fast-loading effects like gradients and animation. A lot of apps and websites use this technology, but it has yet to come into its own. Material design is changing mobile UI overall: suddenly, designers don’t need colorful images to make the design successful. But having said that …

A New World of Color

Face it, we designers LOVE colorful images. And while they may not be as necessary as they once were to overall good design, color palettes this year seem to be not just brighter, but more diverse than in previous years. Today’s apps and websites boast vibrant hues, dark backgrounds, unexpected color transitions and even elements with a bit of a skeuomorphic feel to them.

Experimental Icons

So does that mean skeuomorphic design elements are back? Well, no … not icons, anyway. Over the last few years, in-app icons went from skeuomorphic to flat and then back to outline … but those outlines were thick and bold, and we’re starting to see more of them switching back to thinner, minimalistic lines and designs now.

Another up-and-coming icons-related trend is animation. Putting your icons in motion can help deliver a more sensible–and therefore more authentic–overall user experience.

Back to the Future

Why do trends change? Mostly it’s simply progress: the constant evolution and transformation of what can be done … and what consumers want. Users advance to better and faster devices that need faster and better apps. Designers, for their part, push the limits of convention to deliver designs that are at once intuitive and comfortable yet fresh and exciting.

And hopefully, we’ll never stop.