Mobile UX Design: Simple Guidelines and Examples

Mobile UX Design: Simple Guidelines and Examples

People use their mobile devices to do everything from ordering food to finding directions to planning out their day. If you want your target audience to use your business application or website and for it to leave a great first impression, it needs to be optimized for use on a mobile platform.

In this article, we’ll teach you some criteria for designing mobile apps that are convenient and enjoyable for consumers to use and tips for making your business website more suitable for mobile screens. After that, we’ll show you some examples of applications with great user experience (UX) design. Click below to jump around:  

What is mobile UX design?

Mobile UX design is the way an application is created or a website is adapted to give consumers the best possible user experience while on mobile devices like Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches.

Mobile users have different needs than desktop users. People typically use mobile apps and sites on the go. That’s why mobile UX design needs to be extremely user friendly and intuitive. Programmers who create apps for mobile devices need to understand when users will be using their programs and consider the limitations users face when using mobile devices.

Mobile app vs. mobile web UX design

Mobile UX design can be split into two categories: mobile app design and mobile website design. Mobile applications operate natively for an operating system (OS) like iOS or Android. Users download them from digital distribution services like the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. Meanwhile, mobile websites are versions of normal websites that have been modified for mobile devices. They can be accessed over the broader internet.  

Because native apps cater to a particular OS, they can work much faster and smoother than mobile websites. Mobile apps utilize a mobile device’s processing power and functionality to perform a task efficiently. For example, a financial app might use a smartphone’s computing power to quickly analyze a user’s transaction history and create a financial statement. Many native apps can even function without an internet connection.  

Mobile websites are easier to build and maintain because they don’t have to meet the specifications of a particular OS. They’re also much easier to update. When you make a change to a mobile site, the change automatically appears to anyone who visits that page. However, when you make a change to a native app, you have to send a notification to all of the app’s users. The users then have to agree to download the update before they can see the change you made to the app.

Some of the key differences between native mobile app design and mobile website UX design include:

  • Mobile websites are usually coded using broad web design programming languages like Javascript, Python, HTML, and CSS.
  • Native apps use platform-specific languages and integrated development environments (IDEs). For example, iOS apps are coded using either Swift or Objective-C on the Xcode IDE.
  • Mobile websites usually only need to be built once to work on a variety of devices.
  • Native apps need to be re-coded multiple times to integrate with different platforms. So, an app created for the Android OS won’t be compatible with iOS.
  • Users expect mobile websites to pop up within a few seconds. However, websites need uncluttered interfaces to minimize their loading times.
  • Native apps should only focus on helping users complete a small number of core functions. If they have too much functionality, they can be difficult to use.

If you’re going to create a native application for your business, you should usually have a mobile website first. Your website makes your business discoverable online to mobile users.

You can use search engine optimization (SEO) to help your website rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs) for different keywords. Visitors can also share your website by simply sending their friends a link.

Mobile UX design types

When you’re tackling a UX design project for mobile users, there are a few strategies you can follow. No matter which design type you use, though, your goal should be to make it easy for users to access the information or function they’re looking for.

It’s important to design mobile applications and websites for the smallest compatible device first and then work up to devices with larger screens. An interface that looks easily readable on a tablet may appear crowded on a phone screen.

Here are a few common design schemes used for mobile websites and applications.  

Responsive design

An app or page with a responsive design graphic user interface (GUI) will adapt to fit various screen sizes automatically. Responsive design relies on a fluid grid system. Objects on a fluid grid system occupy the exact same percentage of an area, regardless of image size.  

Responsive methodology saves developers time because it allows them to create one design of a web application that adjusts to multiple screens rather than making multiple versions for different devices.

Why waste time building your own interfaces when you can hire a mobile UI expert from Upwork’s huge selection of independent talent? We’ll help you find the workers you need to meet your business goals.

Adaptive design

Like a responsive app, a website or application with an adaptive design GUI will also fit multiple screen sizes. However, it does so in a different way. In adaptive design methodology, developers have to create multiple fixed-size versions of the same interface. After determining the size of the screen, the interface chooses the correct-size layout and presents it.

Adaptive design allows developers to create interfaces tailored to different screen sizes with more precision than responsive design. However, it can be more expensive and time-consuming to implement adaptive design because it requires developers to create several layouts of different sizes. It’s also not ideal for devices that don’t have standard-sized screens.

Minimalist design

Mobile apps and web pages with a minimalist design seek to emphasize certain images or functions of an application interface by aggressively eliminating anything around them that isn’t absolutely essential. These applications have an abundance of blank space surrounding a small number of core features. The overall effect is that the app or website takes less time to load and is easier to use.

In a minimal app or site, there will typically be one element for a user to focus on. For instance, an e-commerce app that sells flowers might feature a single image of a rose in the center of the screen. Minimalist apps should also have a simple color scheme. Bold colors, like bright red, can help draw a user’s eyes where you want them to look.    

Simplify experiences for your users

Mobile UX design is all about simplicity. Consumers don’t just sit down at a computer to use mobile apps or visit a mobile website. People may use mobile apps and websites when they’re walking down the sidewalk, waiting in line, riding the bus, or in between classes. If a mobile application or site can’t be used easily and quickly, users might not bother with it.

Here are a few tips for providing consumers with a simpler user experience.

1. Minimize unnecessary content

Too much content on your site or application makes it more difficult to use and drags down its loading time. Extra elements can also make a user interface (UI) look messy and unattractive. Most consumers use mobile apps with their phone in portrait mode (straight up and down), so they have even less width to work with.

A web app with a good UX design should have a visual hierarchy that brings a user’s attention toward important functions or information. If your app has too many images that are close together, it will be hard for viewers to discern what’s important.

If you’re creating a mobile website, try to keep your URLs as short and memorable as possible. This helps consumers recognize your page if they choose to bookmark it for later use.

2. Streamline navigation

A great mobile application or website has an intuitive navigation design. Consumers should be able to helm your app or website comfortably and with ease. Large text of at least 16 pixels will help users read information without straining. A clear card-style design, where buttons are split into well-defined, interactive cards, can make it easier for users to identify functions.

Each screen on your application should have one or very few primary actions. For example, if you have a subscription service, the actions on one screen might be “Create an Account” and “Login.” Consider using progressive disclosure for apps with a lot of information. This means that information is split across several screens.

Remember to account for a user’s physical comfort, as well. Many consumers will be navigating your app while holding their phones in portrait mode. This means that buttons should be easily reachable to a user’s thumbs. Buttons for mobile apps also need to be larger, at least 42 pixels, so that users can press them accurately.

If you’re making a mobile website, try integrating bread crumbs so readers can easily access screens on your site. Breadcrumbs are visual, clickable aids that show a user which page on a site they’ve already been to.

3. Limit user interaction

When using a mobile app or website, people want to exert as little energy as possible. Limit the amount of information your users have to type in. If it’s possible, consider allowing users to sign in using their Google account or a social media account like Facebook. You can also allow users to stay permanently signed in so they don’t have to enter usernames and passwords repeatedly.

Retain some user data like customer information and preferences. You can use it to save your users time by prefilling sections of required forms for them. Another way you can use stored data is to save results for searches a consumer has made in the past. This can come in handy if you run an e-commerce business.

Consider making your app voice-input compatible. Many operating systems like Google’s Android have application programming interfaces (APIs) that let apps integrate with their voice recognition software.

Integrating different functions into your applications requires programming skills. Upwork lets you view the profiles of some of the ablest software developers in the world. See how we can help you find the best remote hires for your business.

4. Maintain continuity

Users might access your application or mobile site from more than one device. If someone is used to using your app on their desktop, they’ll want to have a similar experience using your mobile app. If your app or web page has multiple versions, make sure they all have the same, or at least similar, functionality.

Let’s say you run an online gift basket business. The desktop version of your app lets customers track their gift orders. One of your customers orders a gift basket to be delivered on Mother’s Day using the desktop app. On the delivery date, they try to use your mobile app to see if the package has arrived. If the mobile app doesn’t allow users to track packages, they’ll likely be frustrated.

Also, try to keep all the versions of your app updated. If your desktop app has different information than your mobile app, you’ll confuse your customers. If the versions of your app aren’t similar, give users the option to switch between them on a mobile device. Some users might prefer the desktop format to the mobile one.

Mobile UX design examples

Here are a few real-world UX and UI design examples that create a positive experience for consumers. You can use these as design inspiration for your own mobile apps or websites. Remember to keep an eye on new and developing design trends to keep your mobile projects stylish.

1. Revolut


Revolut is a  banking company that lets users do things like see their account balances, wire money, and view past transactions. The interface has a simple color scheme (blue and white) and makes masterful use of blank space to emphasize main functions like “Add Money” and “Send” on its home screen. The buttons are also clearly labeled and large enough to be easily pressed.

2. Uber


Uber is a ride-sharing service that makes it easy for users to hire drivers in their area. The interface has a very simple design. It features a map with a blinking blue dot representing the user’s location. The location of several Uber drivers in the vicinity is represented by easily identifiable tiny cars.

Beneath the map, there’s a gray search bar surrounded by a blank space where users can type in their destinations. Under that, there’s a list of a few recent destinations in large, easy-to-read typography. There’s also a simple color scheme of white, black, gray, and blue. At the bottom of the page, there are clearly labeled buttons to switch from Uber to Uber Eats (the company’s food delivery service).

3. Starbucks


The Starbucks mobile app allows customers to order coffee on their way to the cafe. Each of the app’s screens has a card-style design with clear buttons. The app also has a simple, bold color scheme (white, brown, black, and green) and makes great use of blank space. The pages buttons are also clearly labeled with a large font.

For user convenience, the app stores a client’s past and preferred coffee orders so they don’t have to type them in over and over. The app also offers rewards for loyal customers.

4. Adidas Training


The Adidas Training app lets users choose from a variety of daily workout plans. Workouts are split into categories based on user age, fitness level, and preferences.  The app has a very intuitive, minimalist design. It features workout routines surrounded by white space with clearly labeled options to do things like checking a user’s progress.

Each workout also comes with instructional video and audio content to show users how to complete exercises properly.

5. YouTube


The YouTube mobile interface offers users a personalized experience based on their favorite content. When mobile users open YouTube, they’ll find an easily scrollable list of videos similar to videos they’ve watched or searched for in the past. The program also conveniently lets users sign in permanently, so they don’t have to retype their login information.  

There are easily identifiable buttons that let a user do things like see videos about their favorite subjects or view videos that are currently trending. If users like a creator’s content, they can subscribe to the creator’s channel to receive new content notifications.  

6. Calm


Calm is a very easy-to-navigate meditation app that helps users relax. The main screen has a serene nature scene with clear buttons with labels like “Sleep,” “Meditate,” and “Music.” Each button will take a user to a series of relaxing content choices. Each content screen has a clear card-style layout with a series of clickable serene images.

The background for each page is a bold color, like dark purple or sky blue, that emphasizes the serene images. Users who create an account can do things like tracking their progress and their statistics.

7. Duolingo


Duolingo helps users conquer a variety of new languages. The fun, intuitive mobile app UI design lets users choose from a series of language courses represented by cartoon flags. Beside each flag, the language name (Spanish, German, French, etc.) is written in a large, easy-to-read font that contrasts with the app’s background.

Users can even customize courses depending on what they’re learning the language for and their level of expertise. While they’re learning, a yellow bar will show their progress in the course. There’s also a leaderboard where users can see how they rank among other language students.

8. Eventbrite


Eventbrite lets users create events and invite their friends to them. Users can even sell tickets to events. The interface has a simple white and orange color scheme. The company’s effective use of blank space makes functions and information easily readable. Users can search events by type, date, or location.  

When users click on an event, they’ll see images and details about the event laid out clearly. Users can also share their interests with Eventbrite to receive personalized event recommendations.

9. Airbnb


Airbnb helps users to book rental homes for vacations or other travel. The interface has a very simple layout with a black, white, and gray color scheme that uses flashes of red to highlight user selections and options. There are options to view rentals by price, popularity, and location written in a large, black font.

The interface features a calendar where users can choose their travel dates and decide their preferences for accommodations. Users can even save rentals that they like for later booking.

10. Evernote


Evernote is an app that helps users take notes and organize them into their schedules. The app has a huge amount of functionality. It lets people do things like schedule all types of events in a calendar, organize all their notes, links, product designs, and files, and set up notification reminders for assignment due dates.

The app’s interface is very intuitive. It’s set up like a bulletin board that separates information into digestible blocks. The app also uses white space very well to highlight content and has a simple black, white, and gray color scheme.

Need help? Hire a freelance mobile UX designer

A lot goes into creating a mobile site or app with the perfect user experience design—including mobile development costs. In addition to being functional, your app has to have usability, usefulness, a clear layout, and streamlined functionality. If you don’t have a lot of experience with the design process, you’ll benefit greatly by hiring a professional UX designer.

Upwork has the best freelance mobile UI designers to bring your concept to life. We’ll give you access to the most skilled remote talent from around the world. See how Upwork can help you hire the right workers for your business needs.


Projects related to this article:
No items found.

Author Spotlight

Mobile UX Design: Simple Guidelines and Examples
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

Get This Article as a PDF

For easy printing, reading, and sharing.

Download PDF

Latest articles

X Icon