The Ultimate Guide to Mobile App Design for Different Platforms

Yogesh Pant
Apr 30, 2024


Before we start this blog, first answer this question - How important is mobile app design to the app’s success, in your opinion? Probably more than you might think. Many businesses often make the mistake of overlooking this stage of mobile app development, fearing it may incur additional costs. Although mobile app design demands a significant investment, its worth can be realized in the form of enhanced user engagement, improved user experience, and, ultimately, a higher return on investment. What’s the point of investing thousands of dollars in developing an app if you pull your hands back when it comes to making it user-friendly and customized according to the user’s needs?

Let’s think from the user’s perspective - we humans tend to judge everything based on how they look, and mobile apps are no different. The more visually appealing and easy to navigate your mobile will be, the more it will encourage users to engage on it. Higher engagement times on your mobile apps translate into user satisfaction. 

However, the biggest mobile app design challenge remains creating a user interface that is both visually appealing and functional across a diverse range of devices, each with its own screen size, operating system, and performance capabilities. If you and your development partner manage to mitigate this challenge, believe us, there is nothing stopping your app from being successful. But how would you do that? Well, by getting valuable insights and knowledge from this ultimate guide to mobile app designing for different platforms. 

What Is Mobile App Design?

Mobile app design refers to the look and feel of your mobile app. Aesthetics and interactivity play a crucial role in its functionality. Mobile app design is basically a combination of two elements —User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX).

The User Interface (UI) is all about the app's visual appeal. It involves selecting colors, fonts, styles, and other design elements that define the app's appearance. On the other hand, User Experience (UX) focuses on the app's practical aspects, ensuring it's user-friendly and functional.

It is noteworthy that there could be hundreds of apps like yours, but what makes your app stand out is its UI and UX. It's easy to attract new users, but retaining them remains the biggest challenge. 

For instance, you can encourage users to download your app through referrals, discounts, and offers, but they won’t last long if it takes too long to load, is hard to navigate, or is overwhelmed with redundant features. According to the latest data, 90% of users won’t come back to an app after a bad experience.


This is why it's crucial to prioritize app design right from the start. Investing in it early on can lead to cost savings in the long run and guarantee a higher return on investment for your app.

Here are some UI/UX statistics underscoring the need for mobile app design:

  • Investing just $1 in UX design can yield a return on investment (ROI) ranging from $2 to $100. (Source: Truelist)
  • It's worth noting that 13% of customers will share their negative experiences with 15 or more people. (Source: Slideshare)
  • Aesthetic appeal is the primary reason for 52% of users not returning to a mobile app. (Source: Statistica)
  • 39% of users will disengage with content if it takes too long to load. (Source: Adobe)
  • Usability tests on a group of five users can detect 85% of UX-related issues. (Source: Smallbizgenius)
  • 57% of users surveyed said they wouldn't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile interface. (Source: Socpub)
  • Customers with a negative mobile experience with a brand are 62% less likely to make future purchases. (Source: UXcam)

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Considerations for Mobile App Designing for Different Platforms

As said earlier, designing a mobile app for different platforms stands a huge challenge for the development team and businesses. As a developer, you will need to work on each aspect of mobile app design, keeping the different operating systems, screen sizes, and operating systems in mind. 

While designing native apps demands a more intense investment of time and resources, they offer superior performance, access to device-specific features, and a highly optimized user experience tailored to each platform.

At the same time, cross-platform app designing provides a more cost-effective solution that allows for faster turnaround times and compatibility across multiple platforms.

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Native App Design

Most developers who opt for native app design focus on two major platforms - Android and iOS. You will likely develop your mobile app for either Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store.

That said, there are several considerations to look at when designing an app for different platforms, and the guidelines for each platform are different. 

Notably, the market share for iOS and Android OS differ, too, with Apple controlling a significant market share in the US and Android dominating globally. 


iOS App Design

When designing an iOS app, there are a few key considerations to bear in mind. To begin with, the iOS platform is known for its dependability, speed, and user-friendliness.

Apple provides robust tools that simplify the process of identifying and rectifying issues in your app's design. This means that if your app encounters any usability issues, you can swiftly address them and roll out an updated version.

Your app's aesthetic appeal is crucial to Apple users. They appreciate a design that is contemporary, stylish, and intuitive to navigate. 

Moreover, it's important to ensure that your app functions seamlessly across all Apple devices. This means your app should be designed to work flawlessly not just on iPhones but also on iPads, Apple Watches, Macs, and other devices in the Apple ecosystem.

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Android App Design

Unlike Apple's more restricted environment, Android offers a more open ecosystem, providing greater flexibility in the app development and design process. 

Google provides a comprehensive knowledge base that can be a valuable resource, especially for those new to app design. Compared to Apple, the cost of designing and publishing an Android app is generally lower.

Just like iOS, when designing for Android, it's important to consider a design that goes beyond just smartphones. Your design should be compatible with a variety of devices, such as wearables, VR devices, Android Auto, and more. 

Given the wide range of device types and platforms with their own app stores, these factors should be considered during the design process for Android.

Cross-platform App Design

To walk hand in hand with the technology, designing cross-platform experiences has become a crucial part of product development. This concept, also known as platform-agnostic design design, involves comparing user experiences across various devices and operating systems. These include, but are not limited to, web interfaces, mobile devices, tablets, wearable technology, and operating systems such as iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

The primary principle of cross-platform design is to ensure a uniform user experience across different applications and operating systems. This uniformity includes several aspects, including the design of the user interface, the functionality of the application, its features, the design of interactions, and branding, among others. This ensures that no matter where the user interacts with the product, their experience remains consistent and intuitive.

5 Key Mobile App Design Elements to Consider


Before we start talking about the mobile app design process, here are some key elements that designers should pay attention to. These components, when combined, result in a visually pleasing and user-friendly app. They include:

App Icon

The app icon serves as a gateway to your app and is a critical component of mobile app design. It's essential to design an icon that aligns with your app's overall theme and effectively communicates your brand's image and message. The icon should distinguish itself from other app icons and should symbolize your app or even your brand.


Screens are the broad canvas on which all other elements come into action, from the launch screen to the login and signup. Designers need a well-defined plan for the sequence or hierarchy of screens, which should be considered during the design process. Mastering this aspect of app design will guarantee seamless navigation and a great user experience.

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Buttons are pivotal in prompting user actions and responses. Most conversions depend on the clicking of a few buttons like Sign Up, Checkout, Buy, etc. Hence, it's crucial to design attractive and functional buttons that clearly indicate what the app wants the users to do. Design buttons that harmonize with the rest of the app.

Color Theme

The initial aspect that grabs a user's attention is the color theme. Colors, with their unique language and science, significantly contribute to an app's aesthetic appeal. While the color palette should reflect your brand's guidelines and theme, it should also draw the user's eye to the app's key areas and narrate a visual tale. A well-chosen color palette can give you an edge in the design arena.


After finalizing the colors, the next challenge is choosing the right fonts. Consider the phrase "I will always find you!" written in a gentle and pleasing font like Calibri or Poppins. Now, write the same phrase in a chilling font like Creepster or Eater. Did you notice the shift in interpretation? This underscores the significance of font selection in your app design. Pay attention to this aspect to ensure your users interpret your content as intended.

3 Latest Mobile App Design Trends to Follow in 2024


Design is not just about creating something that looks good or works well. It's also about adhering to the current standards and keeping up with the latest trends. So, what's making waves in the design industry right now? Here are some of the top mobile app design trends you should know about.

#1. Button-less Swipe-Enabled Areas 

Navigating through tiny buttons for every function on an app can be a hassle. That's why Android and iOS devices are designed to respond to swipe gestures. Think about how your mobile experience would change if you simply had to swipe instead of tapping a button to view a photo gallery or open a menu.

Adding swipe-enabled features and areas enhances the user experience. Therefore, designers should aim to integrate these features into their apps wherever appropriate. This trend towards buttonless, swipe-enabled interfaces is something to keep an eye on.

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#2. Designing for Larger Screens

In recent years, many mobile companies have launched their smartphones with bigger screens. This trend caters to the preference of mobile users who enjoy the comprehensive experience provided by larger screens. Considering the multitude of features offered by smartphones, it's understandable why users would gravitate towards bigger screens. This shift in preference has a profound impact on the design of mobile applications.

For example, only about a quarter of a screen's area is easily reachable for a user. This necessitates the design of a flawless mobile navigation system that falls within a user's natural reach. As a result, positioning action buttons within the comfortable reach of a user's thumb has emerged as a fundamental principle of design.

#3. Use of Futuristic Color Palette 

The trend of using natural colors like green and brown in app design is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Instead, colors that aren't typically found in nature, such as purple, pink, and blue, are gaining popularity. This shift indicates a progression towards a more futuristic aesthetic. Designers often use these vibrant, non-natural colors to portray their apps as advanced and innovative.

Another factor influencing this color choice is the enhanced display capabilities of contemporary smartphones. These devices can now accurately and vividly render these futuristic colors and their gradients. Therefore, it's logical for designers to take advantage of this high-quality hardware to showcase these forward-looking colors.

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How to Design a Mobile App for Different Platforms?

If you’re designing a mobile app for a different platform, whether native or cross-platform, understanding the steps involved will help you navigate the process easily. While all mobile app development companies have different approaches, we present you with a standardized process to get you an idea of what it takes and what should you be prepared for.

Step 1. Crafting Wireframes and App Simulations

Think of wireframes as the initial sketch of your app's layout. At this stage, you don't need to focus on the specifics of functionality. Instead, you're charting out the user's path to lay the groundwork for your app. These wireframes can help overcome the common UI/UX design challenges.


This is one of the first steps in the design journey, and there are many excellent design tools for creating wireframes. Simulations, or mockups, are the next level up from wireframes. They are detailed representations of the app's appearance when it's fully developed. 

They maintain the structure and logic of a wireframe but incorporate the UI components and high-definition UX/UI design elements.

Step 2. Choose a Development Approach

The most crucial step in the mobile app designing process is determining the platform for which your app will be designed. You have three primary choices: native, cross-platform, and hybrid. 

Native apps are tailored for a specific platform using its native programming language and tools. These apps provide superior performance, functionality, and user experience. However, they demand more resources and expertise for maintenance.

On the other hand, Cross-platform apps are built using a universal framework that enables them to operate on multiple platforms with minimal modifications. These apps allow for quicker development, reduced costs, and simpler updates. However, they might encounter compatibility issues, diminished performance, and fewer native features.

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Step 3. Focus on Basic Requirements First

The subsequent phase involves tailoring your mobile application to cater to the most basic user requirements. This means prioritizing the fundamental features and functionalities that are universally applicable across all platforms and devices. Don’t add elements or gestures specific to a certain platform that could potentially perplex or annoy users on different platforms. 

It's also advisable to use adaptive design strategies to modify your layout and content to suit various screen dimensions and orientations. Make sure to test your application on a range of devices and emulators to guarantee its smooth operation and consistent appearance.

Step 4. Use Platform-specific Guidelines

To enhance your mobile app design, following the specific guidelines set by each platform is crucial. These guidelines, which include UI/UX design principles, standards, and best practices, show how apps should appear and function. 

Adhering to these guidelines can create a user interface that feels familiar and intuitive on each platform. It's also beneficial to utilize native components and features to maximize the platform's potential and efficiency. 

Understanding and sticking to the UI/UX guidelines provided by each platform is essential. For instance, iOS utilizes Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), while Android employs Material Design guidelines. By adjusting the UI components and navigation patterns to align with each platform's guidelines, you can ensure your app has a native appearance and functionality.

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Step 5. Optimize Your Code

The next phase involves enhancing the efficiency and quality of your mobile application by optimizing your assets and code. It's advisable to decrease the quantity and size of your resources such as images and fonts to conserve bandwidth and storage. 

Compressing, minifying, and caching your code can expedite loading and execution times. Use tools and libraries that aid in optimizing your app for various platforms and devices. Regular testing and debugging of your app is crucial to rectify any errors or glitches.

Step 6. Update and Maintain Your App

This phase all is about keeping your app updated and well-maintained to ensure its relevance and security. Monitoring your app's performance, usage, and user feedback is essential to spot any issues or areas for enhancement. 


Stay up-to-date with the updates and changes of the platforms and devices your app supports. Release new versions of your app that address bugs, introduce new features, and improve user experience. It's also important to keep your users informed about your app's updates and modifications.

Step 7. Learn and Improve

It's crucial to constantly seek input from your users, clients, and colleagues to comprehend their requirements, likes, and contentment. Additionally, you should scrutinize your app's analytics and metrics to gauge its effectiveness, productivity, and user engagement. 

Use this data and feedback to assess your app's strong points and areas for improvement and to make well-informed decisions for future enhancements. Continually acquiring new abilities and tools, as well as staying updated with the latest trends, can assist you in designing superior mobile apps for various platforms.

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Mobile app design is an ongoing process of evolution, as there will always be room for enhancement. It's beneficial to take inspiration from your competitor’s app in the market for creative ideas. Can their design methodologies teach you something new? 

Evaluate aspects such as visual emphasis, call-to-action buttons, navigation bars, and other design components that affect mobile interaction.

So, that concludes this comprehensive guide to mobile app designing for different platforms, hope you have gained all the knowledge on what it takes to design a visually appealing and user-friendly app. 


How Do You Approach Designing For Different Platforms?

The best approach involves understanding each platform's specific conventions and user expectations. This includes using platform-specific elements, navigation patterns, and interaction principles. It's about creating a consistent experience while respecting each platform's uniqueness.

What Is Native Mobile App Design?

Native mobile app design refers to designing apps specifically for a particular mobile operating system. Native design leverages the full potential of device features and capabilities, offering a high-performance, seamless user experience.

What Is The Difference Between Native Mobile App Design And Responsive Web Design?

Native mobile app design is tailored for a specific platform, offering optimal performance and integration with device features. On the other hand, responsive web design is about making a website look and function well on any device, adjusting the layout based on screen size.

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