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With such a small space to work with, the use of color should be a very important aspect of design when designing for mobile devices. So, are you using the right colors in your Mobile App Design? If you aren’t then you are running the risk of users having a much more difficult time with your interface. This is something we are very aware of as a mobile app design company that places a premium on the user experience.

Importance of Color in Design

When using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet your interactions primarily involve your eyes and fingers with secondary involvement coming from your ears and voice, if that app uses sounds and is voice enabled. Because what we see is so important, color plays a critical role in:

  • Seeing content
  • Interpreting content
  • Seeing design elements (such as buttons)
  • Understanding design elements (such as navigation)

While every app uses colors, the importance of the color scheme truly is critical to the user experience as it is a vital aspect of the user interface.

Importance of Color Contrast

Color contrast is one of the more powerful design elements we have with color. By making colors stand apart or out from each other we can easily focus the attention of a user to easily see elements on the screen. High contrast is always the best choice because it makes elements easily recognizable while reducing eye strain.

Conversely low contrast can be overlooked and affects the ability of the user to read content and items. While in some cases from a purely ‘visual beauty’ standpoint low or even mid contrast does look better than high contrast, but if you truly want the best user experience then it is important that users reading things on small screens with varying level of light can actually see what they are looking at.

How do you pick a Color Scheme?

Generally speaking your color scheme should be something that aligns with your brand color choices. With that being said there are a few other guidelines that everyone should consider when travelling down the color design path:

  • Number of colors – Less is more. People generally prefer two or three colors when digesting information. If you go beyond that you risk more confusion.
  • Color combinations – Ideally you want to use either monochromatic or complementary colors as they are more soothing. Analogous can be utilized depending on the design but the elements need clear boundaries.
  • Custom colors – While custom colors or color schemes might seem like a good way to stand out, at the same time they can be problematic because sometimes a non-standard combination you find appealing might not appeal to others compared to more common monochromatic or complementary combinations.

What about Color Blindness?

Designing apps or a webpage for people with visual impairments can be tricky. Less than 10% of people suffer from color blindness, an affliction that can affect a variety of colors and combinations such as red/green, monochromatic or even blue/yellow.

It is difficult to design around all the possibilities for color blindness unless you want to have a very limited color palette comprised of lots of grays or desert hues. Instead ensure that you maximize contrast, use strong visuals, and color all in combination to help people navigate and use the interface so you are never relying on just one aspect for direction.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the use of colors should be one of the primary considerations when you start the design phase for an app. If you are using the right colors in your mobile app design, it will make a world of difference to your users compared to if you aren’t and they end up struggling with navigation and the interface.

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