Good UX/UI design is crucial for app development. However, there are many design clichés that have become commonplace and can actually harm your user experience and hinder your app’s adoption.
Remember the 90s? If you do, remember how cool and in vogue the big, teased hair, excess makeup, and baggy, bedazzled pants were? They were emblems of what fashion was supposed to be, and everyone wanted in on what was socially accepted as cool. Fast forward to 2023, and bedazzled baggy pants, although still trendy for some (no judgment here), seem laughable for most. But that’s how it goes. What worked some years ago becomes cliché once life evolves and we demand new things. The same happens in the world of app development and mobile app UX/UI design. What was innovative, groundbreaking, or disruptive some years back is now gauche and, well…just plain wrong. But unlike bringing 90s fashion to 2023, where using big hair won’t–generally–hurt anyone, designing a mobile application with a less-than-outstanding user experience and user interface and forsaking innovation to keep using outdated patterns can significantly damage your mobile app’s success.
Still, it can be tempting to recycle what you think still works and fall into repetitive patterns by relying on tried-and-true methods that can become overused and predictable fast, making your application feel stale and unoriginal. Of course, this may sound exaggerated; after all, most designers use similar patterns for their apps. However, the truth is that, in the realm of mobile app UX/UI design, there are certain design elements and practices that, while common, have become so ubiquitous they no longer add any value to your app and its user experience.
So, with that in mind, in this article, we’ll explore some of the most common mobile app UX/UI design cliches and outline why it’s essential to avoid them to build innovative applications with user experience and interface designs that are beautiful, effective, and innovative. Let’s get started!
What are the top mobile app UX/UI design cliches to avoid?
Good UX/UI design is a crucial part of creating a successful product, whether it’s a website or a mobile app, there’s no denying that. However, actually implementing effective patterns and elements that can successfully attract and retain customers and enhance user satisfaction is no easy feat. For one, last year, there were roughly 97,000 apps released monthly through the Google Play Store. That’s, on average, more than one million apps released every year, so saying competition is fierce would be an understatement. Secondly, user expectations change and get more demanding every time, meaning that UX/UI designers must stay on top of the changing UX/UI trends and create accordingly.
Still, there are many mobile app UX/UI design clichés that have sneakily become commonplace in the mobile app development world and can hinder app adoption and harm your app’s user experience. Unfortunately, to no fault of their own–in most cases–some UX/UI designers have inadvertently adopted these potboilers thinking they are a foolproof way of ensuring their product’s success. But sadly, they accomplish the exact opposite.
As experienced app developers, we aim to help UX/UI designers break free from the constraints of mobile app UX/UI design cliches and adopt the elements that will actually help them create designs that truly stand out. So let’s get started and dive into the world of UX/UI design cliches.
“More is more”
Nope. More is not more. One of the central tenets of great design is simplicity, but for UX/UI design, it should be dogmatic. In other words, less is always more. Nothing good comes from using a clashing mishmash of images, colors, icons, fonts, and buttons.
On the contrary, a cluttered, overloaded interface will only serve to overwhelm your users and make them quit your app. Still, visual clutter, no matter how much of a cliché it is, is one of the most common mistakes we see in mobile app UX/UI design. Hence, visual clutter is the first cliché you must avoid in mobile app UX/UI design.
Visual clutter refers to using an overwhelming amount of patterns, colors, and other visual information on a screen. Whether it’s because of a cluttered layout, too many different color palettes, chaotic visual elements, or a lack of hierarchy in the design, this overloading of components makes it extremely difficult for users to find what they need, understand what they’re seeing, and focus on what’s important. In addition, a cluttered UX/UI design can also make your mobile product seem unprofessional and dirty, reducing your users’ trust in your brand. As a result, visual clutter leads to frustration, confusion, and cognitive overload. It can also hinder your app’s adoption process, impact your app’s user experience, and affect your product’s sales. In fact, 75% of users judge an application’s credibility based on its aesthetics, so it’s undeniable that visuals are pivotal for reasonable adoption rates.
We know UX/UI designers like to experiment; creativity is part of the beauty of being a designer. And while most designers tend to experiment with different fonts and color schemes to try to make them stand out, too much of a good thing can end up confusing your users. So, here’s how you can avoid falling into visual clutter clichés.
Keep it simple: As we said earlier, avoid doing too much. Each element you decide to implement should be the product of thorough research and must serve a clear purpose to contribute to the overall user experience.
Prioritize content: Identify the most important content on each screen and ensure it has prominent placement using a visual hierarchy to differentiate between types of content and help your users identify what they are looking for.
White space: White space is the empty space between design elements. It can help create a more organized, structured, and relaxed look, helping your users read and navigate easily.
Be clear: Use clear and concise labels, texts, and buttons to highlight navigation items and avoid using too many complicated menus and flows.
Be consistent: Consistency is vital for a good user experience. Design elements such as fonts, typography, color palettes, images, filters, and button styles, among others, are crucial for cohesion. It can also help reduce visual clutter by adding predictability to your app, which users tend to love.
Lastly, be sure to keep an eye on text formats and color schemes. Make sure they are coherent, minimalistic, and clean to create an intuitive, beautiful UX/UI design that seamlessly guides users through your mobile app, which will ultimately lead to greater user satisfaction.
“Typography is just lettering.”
As long as it’s readable, who cares about the type of letters you use in your app, right? Wrong! Typography is so much more than just the type of font you choose for your application. Typography is a cornerstone of mobile app UX/UI design. It is the art of designing and using typefaces to not only promote your product’s readability and convey information but also to create hierarchy, set the tone, feel, and mood of your app, and guide your users to the most critical content. In other words, typography is what brings all aspects of your interface to life. Unfortunately, however, we find that some UX/UI designers fall into typography clichés and employ predictable, unengaging, and overused typefaces.
These clichés often involve the overuse of typefaces such as Helvetica, Times New Roman, Arial, Open Sans, and other sans-serif fonts. While these fonts and many other popular ones can be considered classics and do work in some particular cases, they have generally become so ubiquitous, overused, and standard that they have lost their impact. They no longer offer anything new, making them look bland and, in some cases, even cheap. The same goes for bold and italicized text, decorative fonts, too-high or low-contrast lettering, and even all-caps letters. In some particular cases, these typeface formats can add emphasis and drive attention to certain essential words or phrases, but overusing them is a very common mobile app UX/UI design cliché that can make the text difficult to read, distract users away from the truly important content, and detract from the overall aesthetics of your mobile app.
So, to avoid these and other typography mobile app UX/UI design cliches, UX/UI designers should strive to:
Experiment with new fonts: Stop relying on popular fonts like Helvetica or Arial, and try experimenting with other lesser-known but still beautiful and engaging fonts to create unique interfaces.
Use your typography of choice with intention: No matter what typeface you’re going with, it should be used purposefully. You should use all typographic formats and elements to create a hierarchy, guide the user’s eye to the most critical content, set the tone and mood of your content, and express feelings and ideas.
Emphasize readability: One of the most important aspects of choosing a suitable typeface is its readability. So, no matter how sophisticated or stylish your font is, it must be fully legible and have appropriate line spacing and contrast to ensure your users can easily read it.
Working with typography is an art, and as such, it should be approached with care and dedication. Your app’s readability, accessibility, and hierarchy rely heavily on which typeface you select, and it marks the difference between a just-ok interface and a great one.
“As long as the app looks good, nothing else matters.”
If we had a penny for every time we’ve seen this mobile app UX/UI design cliché happen… Yes, the look of your application does matter, but it’s just a tiny part of what makes or breaks a mobile product; your app can initially wow your users with beautiful visuals, pretty colors, and compelling typography…and still, it annoys them. Why? Because no matter how aesthetically pleasing an app is, if it doesn’t help your users achieve their goals, meet their needs, and solve their problems, then it becomes useless for them. In other words, as designer Frank Chimero said: “People ignore design that ignores people.”
So, while the look of your mobile app is essential, it should always go hand-in-hand with good functionality and have a clear purpose. Here are our suggestions on how to accomplish that:
User-centered design should always be at the forefront: All your UX/UI design initiatives should be user-centered, meaning they should be focused on your research findings and on meeting the needs and expectations of your users. If you add aesthetically-driven elements, they should still be easy to use, intuitive, and meet the user’s goals.
Don’t reinvent the wheel: No matter what the aesthetic feel of your app is or how many visually appealing elements you’re implementing, always stick to real-world, established, and recognizable UI patterns and conventions that your users are familiar with. In mobile apps, UX/UI design, innovation, and creativity are always welcomed, but too much of anything can easily backfire, even when it’s a good thing. So instead, find a balance between the usual and the new to help your users easily navigate the app and ensure that functionality is not compromised.
Focus on accessibility: Aesthetics and functionality must go hand-in-hand with accessibility, which is critical for ensuring that all your users, regardless of their abilities, can use your mobile app. Ignoring accessibility, especially when it’s in lieu of aesthetics, can lead to pain points and the exclusion of users with any kind of disability. So it’s crucial for your mobile app UX/UI design to be accessible, clear, easily navigable, and legible.
Don’t neglect testing and feedback: No matter how well you managed to strike a balance between looks and functionality, if you ignore user feedback, you risk missing any usability issues and targeting them in time to make improvements. The same goes for user testing, which is critical for seeing how your product works in real-life scenarios. It is crucial to identify usability issues and ensure your mobile app actually meets the needs of your target audience. Remember, you design for your users, not for yourself, so neglecting user testing can lead to a mobile app that looks amazing but doesn’t solve your users’ problems or provide a good user experience.
“Highly minimalistic mobile app UX/UI design is always in.”
Earlier, on our first mobile app, UX/UI design cliché, we said visual clutter or adding too many visual elements was a mistake and that you should always go by the premise that, in UX/UI design, less is always more. And while that is true, modern mobile app UX/UI design trends do tend to lean towards minimalism. Why? Because it brings unparalleled beauty and flexibility to apps. Nonetheless, it does require extensive research, some critical thinking, and a lot of pragmatism to implement it correctly and avoid it from becoming a cliché. In that sense, minimalistic mobile app UX/UI design can be tricky and needs to be approached with care for several reasons.
For one, yes, minimalistic interfaces can help reduce clutter, improve visual tiredness, and enhance the user experience of your mobile application by making it easier for users to find what they need and navigate it. However, it can be very easy to get carried away and over-reduce the use of elements to the point where you’re actually introducing more friction and cognitive load. For instance, introducing icons without text labels can look good but makes navigation challenging to understand. Likewise, using a minimalistic color palette can be aesthetically pleasing. However, in some cases, it can hinder visual cues and lead to a lack of visual interest that makes your app’s design look dull and unengaging. Similarly, when not approached with care, minimalistic fonts or colors can sometimes lead to sterile compositions devoid of personality and have trouble accurately representing a brand or conveying a particular tone.
Secondly, it’s imperative for UX/UI designers to avoid confusing simplicity with minimalism. Simplicity is a reduction in the complexity level of something, while minimalism is a reduction in the number of elements. So, in that sense, you can build a minimalistic UI and have it still carry a lot of hidden complexity. So, in most cases, striving for simplicity is what UX/UI designers must aim for, but they should never go overboard and oversimplify in the name of minimalism. Doing so can easily backfire and increase the cognitive load on your users, making the app hard to understand and impossible to navigate.
So, if a minimalist UX/UI design is what you’re going for, it’s essential to keep in mind the following points:
Consider your type of app: Typically, and when done correctly, minimalism works well, but its effectiveness dramatically depends on the type of mobile app you’re designing. For example, it usually doesn’t work with complex products where you must convey a lot of information or implement data-heavy dashboards such as some e-commerce, medical, or banking apps. On the contrary, it works well with clothing brands, art galleries, and furniture stores. So, be mindful of what and who you’re designing for.
If you’re set on going minimal, strike a healthy balance: As we mentioned above, minimalism is excellent as long as it doesn’t reduce your mobile app’s functionality. So, it’s vital to ensure that the design of your app, no matter how minimalistic, is still easy to understand, straightforward, and intuitive with a logical hierarchy of information. If minimalism compromises clarity, it’s not achieving its goal of creating a functional design. Likewise, if a minimalistic UX/UI design compromises your app’s functionality, it’s not achieving its goal.
Focus on your user research before choosing to go minimal: To create a successful minimalist design, it’s paramount you put your user’s needs and preferences at the forefront. It’s the only foolproof way of ensuring you make the right decisions, give your users all the information they need for proper decision-making, keep your app engaging, and make informed decisions moving forward.
Implement minimalism with a purpose: If, after you’ve read the previous points, you are still set on going with a minimalist mobile app UX/UI design, make sure you do it with a purpose, not just for the sake of following a trend. Focus on keeping the essential elements of your app, the ones that help your users solve their problems, and remove any unnecessary ones. Create a clean and uncluttered design that emphasizes the most critical information while keeping the design interesting enough to engage your users and create a positive user experience.
Mobile app UX/UI design is an art. Building aesthetically appealing interfaces while remaining functional is challenging, even for the most experienced of us. However, it’s essential for UX/UI designers not to cut corners and create interfaces that deliver value to their users and solve their problems effectively. While it may be tempting to save some time and rely on standard, proven design solutions and patterns, most of the time, these overused elements can quickly become unoriginal clichés that can lead to a lack of creativity and originality and ultimately harm your mobile app’s user experience. Instead, try focusing on understanding your users and their needs and never be afraid to experiment, try new things, and push the boundaries of what is considered traditional and acceptable in UX/UI design.
Remember, great UX/UI design is the one that helps users solve their problems, not the one that follows the most trends. So, by avoiding falling into these and other mobile app UX/UI design clichés and embracing creativity, you can create not only genuinely memorable in-app experiences but also build effective products that resonate with your users, which ultimately is what we want.
If you want to discuss this article, have any questions, or want to work with top-notch mobile app UX/UI designers, don’t hesitate to contact us!