8 Color Scheme Trends in Mobile App Design

Color schemes are an ever-changing, ever-evolving aspect of mobile app design. Over the past years, we have seen a shift in trends from heavy use of colors throughout mobile app elements, to more minimal use of color, with much more focused palettes being used. As well as this, there has been a move towards using more white space alongside high contrast, experimental colors. The last year or two has also seen subtle colors introduced for shadows, replacing their traditional grayscale counterparts that were previously so common. Gradients have also made their way back into mobile apps, this time using high-contrast complimentary colors to introduce a bold and visually impactful style to the user interface.

We are going to look further into eight mobile color scheme trends and discuss some inspiring examples which implement them highly effectively.

1. Minimal color usage with focused palettes


The above example highlights a trend with minimal color usage alongside an abundance of white space. This has been implemented perfectly, with a clear two-color palette which provides enough visual separation between linked and active elements, without going overboard with color. The use of color and whitespace aligns very well with Apple hardware and provides a cohesive feel between the software and hardware. It’s minimal but balanced and effective – a trend which looks set to continue through 2016 and into 2017.

2. High contrast, experimental colors


With the introduction of iOS 7 a few years ago, Apple began a trend which introduced very high contrast colors into mobile user interfaces. Bright pinks, greens, royal blues, and reds are now commonplace in mobil e designs, and provide a stunning contrast which is both clear and visually impactful. This example utilises the trend effectively, giving the app an exciting yet minimal and refined feel.

3. Subtle colored shadows


Another mobile design trend that has come to fruition over the past year is the introduction of colored shadows. Where previously we would see monochrome shadows, we now often see shadows consisting bright but muted colors, such as blues, pinks, and yellows. This provides beautiful visual effect, especially when placed on a complimentary muted background color such  as above.

4. Bold, bright colored iconography


In line with the trends above, it has also become commonplace to differentiate icons using bold, vibrant colors. The app above, for example, uses five separate contrasting colors to separate actions and elements. The result is an interface which is visually impactful and easy to understand.

5. Pastel, muted colors


Pastel and muted colors have been in use for a while, however we’re beginning to see some really quite stunning implementations of such colors alongside  other mobile trends. The results, such as above, provide great separation and balance, while maintaining a design which is a pleasure to use.

6. Blacks


While black is not technically a color, this trend at least reflects the lack thereof. The trend toward more minimal interface designs has brought with it the use of very minimal color usage, including often simply using black, white, and greys. The above is a great example of this, and uses them effectively without straying towards brutal minimalism.

7. High-contrast, complimentary gradients


Get the look: Ionicer 

Gradients have changed considerably over the past few years. Where before we used to see fairly subtle same-color gradients being used for UI elements, we now see more and more designers implementing high-contrast gradients which use complimentary colors. This provides a really quite beautiful effect when used as above. The transition from blue to purple gives depth and contrast to the interface, and creates some eye -catching visual effects when combined with patterns and imagery.

8. Colorful illustrations


Illustration is becoming more abundant in mobile apps, particularly in onboarding flows. Color trends within these illustrations have progressed towards using very colorful and bold palettes. When combined with a minimal interface, this has a great contrasting effect such as above, and can really help bring a mobile app to life.


About the Author Ben Bate

I'm Ben, a Product Designer from the United Kingdom. You can visit my website or follow me on Dribbble.