For the last 5 years, mobile apps are actively surpassing websites as a conversion driver. According to Business Insider, mobile applications were the most efficient conversion tool in the Q4 of 2017 - with the growth of smartphone sales, the impact of apps has been growing ever since.
Developing native mobile designs from scratch is expensive and time-consuming. That’s why designers often use user interface pattern libraries to create mobile apps.
In this post, we’ll review the list of UI design pattern libraries as well as discuss their respective pros and cons.
Impact of the Mobile Design on the Business
Mobile apps provide businesses with benefits unreachable for other means of product or service promotion. This is an instant access to-, and long-lasting presence in customers’ daily lives. A mobile app can be a highly successful investment - yet, it can only become such if it’s well-designed.
As mobile apps take storage space on a user smartphone, poor UI will be a deal breaker and increase the likelihood of app deletion. A fast, creative interface, on the other hand, has all the potential to increase the number of users (read 'clients'). Users will be able to connect with the brand anytime - on the go or while waiting in a line.
Creating a user interface for a mobile app is challenging though. The good news is, pattern libraries provide companies with UI/UX templates that can either be used for inspiration or lay the groundwork for the future mobile interface. There’s no shortage of mobile UX design pattern libraries available online. Here is a review of the top popular options.
Design Pattern Libraries
The pattern library offers a fresh collection of UI elements - badges, buttons, profile designs both for Android and iOS. You will also be able to track fresh interface trends in a separate tab.
- Tracks all popular app development trends
- Both Android and iOS patterns are available
- A built-in RSS feed
- Filter-based navigation system
Pttrns is one of the largest pattern libraries out there. Using a navigation tab on the left side of the page, you’ll be able to choose a needed feature and browse through templates. All the entries are sorted on a timeline - designers will be able to see how interface trends change over the years.
Pttrns contains paid templates for Android, iOS, Watch, and iPad.
- Patterns for Android and iOS apps
- A wide database collected over the last 7 years
- Tag-based navigation system
- Premium subscription is needed to view all entries
Little Big Details is an inspiration library with dozens of user interfaces. It’s an RSS full of patterns, interfaces and mobile app interface design tips. You’ll be able to reblog or share your favorites. All the entries are sorted by tags. You will also be able to navigate Little Big Town by using a search tab.
- An RSS feed of web and mobile app design patterns
- All the patterns are filtered by tags
- A like-based rating system
- The archive of entries helps track the changes in UI and UX design over time
UX Archive is an iOS pattern library that allows designers to create workflows, get interface inspiration ideas. You will be able to examine the workflows of all famous apps. There are over 350 designed workflows at the moment. UX Archive is a curated content platform. Users will be able to submit their own workflows and share them with the community.
- An animated pattern library for iOS and Android
- The patterns are sorted by user flows and tasks
- Open flow submission policies
- The accounts of active contributors are published in the ‘Featured’ tabs
Mobbin Design is a mobile app UX design pattern library for iOS. It has a series of screenshots of 170 apps and over 10,000 patterns. Designers can add favorites to their own library.
Mobbin Design has an interface that’s easy to use and nice to look it. All the screenshots are grouped by elements or patterns. For each entry, there’s a tab identifying the iOS version of the app was designed for.
- Over 10,000 design patterns collected from 170+ iOS apps
- A user can save favorite entries and view them in the ‘My Library’ folder
- All entries are filtered by patterns and elements
- Social media sharing for favorite items is enabled
The ‘UI Sources’ pattern library is the weekly digest of curated iOS designs. After entering your email, you’ll get regular updates with the best-rated UI inspiration. All the interfaces are grouped by various filters:
- Application type
‘UI Sources’ offers interface kits as well - Sketch files designers can edit and customize to their own preferences. You can also view elements using tools like Figma or Adobe XD.
- A full collection of apps, interfaces, flows, and UI kits
- A weekly newsletter with trending patterns
- Filter system and a search bar navigation
- Video interactions for each pattern
Dark Patterns is one of the most creative pattern libraries out there as it collects the ‘dark side of the UI design’. Manipulative tactics designers use, hidden ads, user experience obstruction, and many more sneaky techniques stakeholders use to trick users.
While the pattern library can hardly be used for inspiration during UI design, it’s certainly an engaging website to browse through.
- Helps designers to familiarize themselves with the best practices of UX and UI
- Offers a list of patterns to avoid
- Helps business developers specify designer briefs
- Contributes to creating united design standards
LaudableApps highlights iOS apps with clean design by showing two screenshots from them and a link to the iOS App Store. Screenshots usually help grasp the beauty of the design rather than helps understand the UI element and content positioning, and the site bears no additional descriptions to the apps they showcase.
- Minimalistic design - just a feed of app screenshots
- No search, tags or other navigation system
- Exists since 2012
- Approx. one new iOS app is added monthly
Android Patterns is a wide collection of design patterns for Android mobile apps. All the designs are grouped by categories - navigation, personalization, screen interactions, social, dealing with data, notifications, etc.
There’s a separate page dedicated to each design inspiration. Here, you’ll find out more about all the pros and cons of using a particular element for your app.
- A robust set of recommendations for each pattern
- Community-driven pattern sharing policy
- Regular library updates
- All patterns are available only for Android
Inspired UI is a resource full of inspiration material for mobile UX. The libraries hosted their fully cover navigation, functionality, and the general look and feel of the application. A designer will be able to view patterns on various screen dimensions - iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones.
Inspired UI has a detailed filtering system with dozens of available categories - it will not be difficult for UX professionals to find a needed pattern.
- Wide categorized pattern database
- Entries for both Android and iOS mobile apps
- A designer can save favorite patterns on a Pinterest account
- A flexible filtering system
- View items by addition date or functional categories
Screenlane is a UI pattern library acknowledged by 27,000+ designers subscribed to site updates. The filter system on the left of the site allows to quickly narrow your search, since the library contains designs for iOS apps and web pages, and every design has a carefully defined list of elements, a product category, and screens you can filter your search by.
The author of the site, Ramy Khuffash, also runs similar pattern projects named Inboxflows.com and pageflows.com.
- Patterns for iOS apps and web sites
- Filter-based navigation system
- Weekly updates via email
- You can submit your own works as well
Pros and cons of pattern libraries
While pattern libraries are often perceived as mere inspiration for the front-end, they are a crucial component of atomic design.
The benefits list of using patterns is fairly extensive as they allow designers to create a system of consistent standards, save time, and improve maintenance efficiency.
Pros of pattern libraries
- Design portability. Pattern libraries ensure consistency across various products. Thanks to a standardized pattern library, companies can create a visual brand through all their projects. Creating a consistent visual style for various apps is more challenging if done from scratch. So, using pattern libraries, teams will be able to create fully functional designs for multiple projects for a lower price.
- Improves understanding within the team. UX design for a mobile app is often created in different departments, isolated from one another. Patterns make sharing design solution easier and improve the overall communication quality. For instance, a developer can create a codebase for a new pattern and instantly share it with the entire group involved in the design process. All the materials will be permanently available and can be easily reused for the company’s future projects.
- Makes it easier to predict the impact of design decisions. Pattern libraries allow designers to ensure consistent performance all over the app as they can predict the impact of each used element. Using patterns, it’s easier to guess how a button, a form element, or typography will look on devices with different screen dimensions. This provides UI designers with better control over the interface and facilitates testing.
- Creates more room for collaboration. Pattern libraries provide team members with a shared vocabulary, a better understanding of the elements of the wireframe, and so on. As a result, when new members are introduced to the team, it’s easier for them to catch up and be fully engaged in development.
Cons of pattern libraries
While pattern libraries seem a jack-of-all-trades in design, such an approach still comes with flaws and challenges. Here are a few cons designers usually notice when using UI/UX pattern libraries.
- The standardized design gives a company lower odds of standing out. As much as company managers would like to approach UI design as a possibility to create a visual identity and stand out among competitors, using pattern libraries doesn’t allow businesses to fully express their creativity. The issue is that most high-rated pattern libraries are repeated and reused all over the world. As a result, brands have to either customize the pattern (a thing, possible only to a certain extent) or give up the hopes for a 100% unique page visual.
- A designer is constrained by the design system. Using a pattern library defines both the elements used for the interface and the method of using them. While it’s highly convenient for beginners as a library introduces them to industry standards, more experienced specialists might feel constrained in the range of opportunities.
- Over time, a design pattern has to be replaced as it can grow outdated. Due to stability, normally associated with pattern libraries, development teams tend to rely on them for decades. In fact, it’s necessary to review and update the system every once in a while to not fall into the trap of design bureaucracy.
- Off-the-shelf pattern libraries are not fully customizable. Mobile app design patterns are created to operate in a predictable way. As a result, it’s harder for a designer to change the initial parameters of a certain component.
What’s Best For You?
Using design patterns gives designers an opportunity to accelerate the design process, reduce the design debt. Moreover, it’s easier for team members to understand each other as they are relying on patterns.
Due to a great flexibility, use of design patterns is a good fit for both startups and large teams.
Design patterns are universal to the extent that they are applicable not just for various projects but across the entire range of designer communities. As a result, designers can help each other out by writing and sharing patterns that push the envelope of the entire industry.
It’s important to remember, however, that, while mobile application design patterns are considered to be an epitome of cohesiveness, they can lead to the lack thereof.
That is due to the fact that each designer can apply a pattern differently - and the two ways of working under the same set of guidelines will turn out unrecognizable.
Design pattern libraries allow development teams to create cohesive products, create reusable elements, and cut down the costs of interface maintenance. For mobile devices, patterns are crucial as they ensure a standardized view of the page regardless of hardware constraints.
If you liked this post, make sure you check out our How Depth and Complexity Icons Help Us Design Digital Products blog post where we share our approach to brainstorming product ideas and list the resources with icons we use in our apps and get inspired by.
If you’re looking forward to designing a mobile app or writing one from scratch, we might help. Our team of experienced app developers, UI and UX designers will create a custom product that will fit your business goals and bring forth revenue.
At Ego Creative Innovations, we create custom designs as well as develop mobile user experience design patterns teams can reuse on their own. Take a look at our portfolio to see all interfaces the team has created for SMEs and global companies.
Have a project idea? Contact us to discuss it with a professional development team!