8 Color Scheme Trends in Mobile App Design

We explore the latest mobile color scheme trends and discuss some inspiring examples where they have been used effectively.

Portrait for Envato By Envato
Posted 25 Nov 2016
iPad 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 complementary 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 effective.

01. Minimal Color Usage With Focused Palettes

Image Source: Dribbble

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 that looks set to continue through 2016 and into 2017.

02. High Contrast, Experimental Colors

Image Source: Dribbble

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

03. 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 of bright but muted colors, such as blues, pinks, and yellows. This provides a beautiful visual effect, especially when placed on a complimentary muted background color such as above.

04. Bold, Bright Colored Iconography

Image Source: Dribbble

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 that is visually impactful and easy to understand.

05. Pastel, Muted Colors

Image Source: Dribbble

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 that is a pleasure to use.

06. Blacks

Image Source: Dribbble

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.

07. High-Contrast, Complimentary Gradients

Image Source: Dribbble

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 that use complementary 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.

08. Colorful Illustrations

Image Source: Dribbble

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.