Major Mobile App Design Trends of 2021

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Major Mobile App Design Trends of 2021



There are many important components when it comes to developing your new app. One of the most important, but less understood components is mobile app design imagery. In order to demystify this field a bit, we spoke with the SEM Nexus Director of Graphic Design, Taylor. She gave us great insight into some of the biggest mobile app design  trends of 2021 below.


Dark Mode in Mobile App Design

Dark theme user interface is a wildly popular trend right now. If you survey a room of mobile phone users, especially younger ones, you’re likely to see a large number of them using dark mode whether it’s 10pm or 9am. 

The introduction of dark mode as many mobile phone users know it came from an Apple iOS update in September, 2018 (Not to be confused with night mode, which changes the color of your screen from a cooler to warmer tone). However, software and app developers have actually been using dark mode for a considerable amount of time because it’s noticeably easier on the eyes.

The benefits of dark mode are undoubtable. In an age where people are using mobile smartphones and tablets more than ever, it makes sense that users would want their UI to have a theme that hurts their eyes less than the harsh classic white. 

This is evidenced by the rise of Facebook dark mode, Instagram dark mode, and Google dark mode, among other incredibly popular apps. Additionally, dark mode is associated with a more stylish and modern look. Dark mode is thought of as new and sleek, something that will likely give your app a lot of attention right off the bat if it is included in the mobile app design.


Minimalism in Mobile App Design

Minimalist design is another trend that is taking over the mobile app design landscape in terms of trends. But what exactly is minimalism in regards to app design? There are many different definitions floating around the internet, but the New York Film Academy’s Graphic Design department manages to describe it succinctly and thoroughly. 

According to them, “A minimalist design is a design that only uses the most essential elements, including basic shapes and limited color palettes, to create something that’s very simple yet memorable.” This draws us back to the mobile app design trend of using dark mode ui design because dark mode allows users the ability to focus on the content at hand rather than being distracted by design.

Other examples of the trend of minimalism in design include minimalist art (simple iconography and illustrations) and a basic color palette (such as black paired with another color). Benefits of minimalism in app design include not only helping your users focus primarily on the purpose of your app, but also faster load times, a more stylish look, and a heightened likelihood of responsiveness. Overall, it pays to be minimalist when it comes to designing your app interface.


Hand Drawn Design in Mobile App Design

Something that has also gained a lot of traction in recent years when it comes to app design trends is artwork and illustrations that look almost like hand drawn stamps of their real-life counterparts. The “official” slang term for this trend is neumorphism in the design world. 

Neumorphism is a word that comes from the combination of the words “new” and “skeumorphism”, a design trend that was popular in the mid-2000’s. The design focuses on creating images and iconography that give an almost 3D feel to the icons in order to make them seem closer to the real thing. This allows app users to have a UI experience closer to the real thing, a nod to the growing popularity of trends such as VR and AR.


Motion Design in Mobile App Design

Motion design is an aspect of design imagery taking mobile apps by storm. It is a great addition to user interface design scapes because it has an exciting “bonus” effect. Motion design is exactly what it sounds like: the incorporation of movement into app and graphic design.

Now more than ever, different elements of mobile apps are becoming animated rather than being simple static elements. The wheels of the bike pictured on a bike rental app might start turning when the user has identified one nearby for pickup. Or the grocery bag illustration on a meal delivery app might start shaking when the delivery is on the way.

Motion design adds an aspect of novelty to the user experience within an app, something that is able to stand out even more in the days of enduring minimalist design. As a result, incorporating well thought out motion design in a mobile app can result in plenty more users who have a spark in their eye every time they open up the app.


Bonus: The Dying Trend of Flat Illustration

While there are a multitude of trends on the rise in the mobile app imagery sector, there is one that is in danger of dying out soon – flat illustration. Flat illustration is a design style that is proudly 2D. There are no attempts to make the illustration any more 3-dimensional with shading or highlighting. Instead, the style embraces a bright and varied color palette to convey information simply, in a way reminiscent of the clip art we all loved in the early 2000’s. 

So why is flat illustration considered on the brink of extinction? Simply put, it’s become too popular. In the lifestyle of a trend it is discovered, it builds up to a ceiling of popularity, and then the bubble bursts. Flat illustrations have saturated the market due to the popularity of certain brands such as MailChimp that employ their use. However, it’s only a matter of time before clients and designers go looking for the next big thing.



As you can see, there are a variety of popular trends on the market. But chasing too hard after the big trends of the time can easily leave you in the dust and behind the times. At the end of the day, it’s better to simply acknowledge current trends while doing your own thing than to follow them completely. Hopefully this list will inspire you to get creative with your app design imagery moving forward so that you can come up with the best app design for your company’s needs and goals. And if you ever need help getting taking your app idea from a dream to a reality, reach out to SEM Nexus and we’ll happy join you on the journey!


[author] [author_info]by Bree Ogaldez, SEM Nexus SEO & Content Creator[/author_info] [/author] 

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