When it comes to app design, there are as many styles as there are design teams. Today we’re going to focus on clean design: straight lines, sans-serif fonts, only the minimal amount of elements needed to communicate an idea to the user.
Here are seven of our favorite apps with beautifully clean interfaces. If you have other favorites to add to the list, let us know!
If you are building an app that allows users to convert anything from temperature to shoe size, you want a clean design that allows users to quickly find the information they need. The conversion app Vert uses gray type on a white background to allow the users to focus on the numbers they’re trying to convert, and not get distracted by anything else. This minimal design also means Vert has a quick load time, which is ideal for an app that needs to get users accurate answers quickly.
How do you keep a slot machine from looking too cluttered? Well, if you’re Urbanspoon, you make your design nearly monochromatic (white slots, black text, gray gradient background) and make the slot machine large enough to take up the entire screen — there’s no room left for thumbnail pictures or quirky fonts. There are many restaurant discovery apps out there, but Urbanspoon’s consistently beats the competition due to its clean design and instantly-understandable UI.
If you work with construction teams, you may have run across Procore. Its punch list app allows designers, architects, project managers, and construction teams to view a burndown list (or “punch list”) of outstanding tasks that must be completed before a construction project is done. Procore shows its design skills by using a simple invisible grid to organize the information; a few strips of blue outline a white background, and the text is minimal sans-serif.
Just because you’re creating a minimal design doesn’t mean you have to make everything black, white, and gray. Peek, the gesture-based calendar app, uses a warm red and orange against white text to present a minimal design without defaulting to the usual minimalist colors. A quick tap unfolds your day’s schedule, accordion-style; tap again to make the extra info disappear. As a bonus feature: if you cup your hand over the top half of the screen, Peek gives you the current time.
To-do lists can quickly become cluttered, as many users like to subdivide their list by priority or location and create dependencies among their to-do items. However, there are simpler solutions. Clear uses a similar red and orange color scheme, and, like Peek, focuses on gestural navigation rather than buttons. Users are still able to organize and categorize their action items, but the single-column screen never appears overwhelming or overly busy. With Clear, your to-dos actually feel like they might get done.
It’s even possible to create a game with a minimalist design. Blek is a variation on the familiar Snake game; tilt your phone to create an ever-increasing line, while avoiding a large black dot. If you’re hoping to design a minimalist game, consider the classics: Snake, Checkers, and Peg Solitaire are all familiar games that beg for a revamped, minimalist design.
Let’s end this list with the ultimate in minimalist apps. The writing app Pop gives you a soft white screen and a blinking cerulean cursor. As you write, your text appears in gray. Pop is designed to give you a space in which to write freely, with no distractions, and its bare-bones, beautiful design makes Notepad look cluttered. If you’re designing a writing app, resist the urge to make it look like notebook paper or a quirky Moleskine. Follow Pop’s example and give people a space in which to write.