11 Mar 12 Useful design sources for Mobile Design
They say you should never judge a book by its cover. But now, mobile apps are often judged by their icons and interfaces; all it takes to make a bad impression is a dated design, no matter how useful or well-coded your app is.
Good mobile design takes time, and sometimes, you need a little outside help coming up with ideas. If you’re looking for some inspiration for ways to dress up your next app or site, we’ve got a nice list of places you should go to get in the zone.
Dribbble is an exclusive invite-only community for designers, where they show off concepts and works-in-progress from their projects in 400×300 pixel screenshots. You can browse the site (and sign up with Twitter as a scout if you want to follow and hire designers) even if you’re not a member.
From typography to icons to interfaces to illustrations, you can see some of the world’s best creative minds at work here. And yes, there’s plenty of mobile interface design goodness to peruse with simple searches (try queries like mobile app, ios,iphone, ipad, and android). Members also make some of their design files available for free download, so keep an eye out for those.
MyColorScreen is a repository of user-submitted Android and iOS home screens and lock screens, detailed with tips on how to recreate those delicious interfaces on your own device. For designers, it’s like walking into an eye-candy store riddled with beautiful wallpapers and widgets. Many of the customizers are pixel junkies themselves, who incorporate their own icons and backgrounds to tie their interfaces together. Spend a few minutes here to get some fresh ideas for what your app could look like.
3. Inspired UI
This is a collection of iOS mobile patterns, nicely curated and displayed on a tumblog. You can browse screenshots by upload date or by category, including something to spark a new idea for every user action, including article views, commenting, login and registration forms and much more. If you just want to see some beautiful interfaces, head to Inspired UI‘s Navigation, Dashboard, and Coverflow sections, which contain some of the more vibrant screenshots of the lot.
More iOS mobile patterns here, albeit with a horizontal layout of screenshots. There are a few overlaps between Mobile UI Patterns‘ finds and those of Inspired UI, but if you’re doing some serious research, it’s worth checking both of them out to see what’s been done before.
5. Lovely UI
Did someone say ‘even more iOS mobile patterns?’ Lovely UI is another place to go for learning about how to deal with crucial user interaction screens that could make or break your app (or at least get you a bad review). There are a couple of unique sections here including Typography and Textures which are worth a look if you’ve gone through everything else on our other pattern site recommendations.
Arguably one of the best marketplaces for mobile design files (with everything from print templates to icons to resources like fonts and textures), GraphicRiver boasts a very impressive stock of UI elements that are perfect for use in mobile app and site designs. Whether you’re looking to buy or just browse, you’ll find plenty of fresh design ideas in the form of UI kits, many of which are executed at high resolution for use with Retina display devices. These are usually available with several different elements (like buttons, sliders, menus, navigation bars and notifcation popups) as layered vector files so you can edit and resize them to suit your app/site easily.
Part of one-man show Oliur Rahman’s Ultralinx network, UltraUI is a collection of interface design goodness with an emphasis on clean and minimal styling. This tumblog has categories for iPhone, iPad and Android designs, and also features some lovely web design finds as well. If you want more, you can also head to Ultralinx, where Rahman posts weekly roundups of the most beautiful iPhone and Android home screens and lock screens he can find.
If you’re a mobile designer, you should already be a part of Meerli. It’s a buzzing community filled with some of the top talent from the world of interface design, and allows you to browse through a boatload of great work and the people behind them. You can follow or hire designers, and comment on and share designs right from gallery pages. There are sections for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone apps, but only the first two are populated at the time of writing. Similarly, the icon section has just opened and features only a few designs — but there’s still a lot to see here. Sign up with Twitter to get in on the action now, before the not-so-cool kids do.
That’s right, more iPhone patterns. This time around, Pttrns seems to have the freshest collection around, and even allows you to toggle between standard and @2x views — great for users on Retina displays.
And if you’re designing for Android, be sure to check out Android Pttrns (yes, they do admit that it’s a copy of Pttrns).
10. UI elements
Standing amongst the web’s foremost design inspiration galleries, Creattica has over 4,000 designers showing off their latest creations, for a variety of media ranging from print to pixel art. They also have a beautiful mobile interface design section that’s a worth a look, as is their icon design section. Plus, Creattica has a whole sub-gallery of UI elements chock-full of concepts for buttons, windows, navigation and media players. You can keep up with the latest additions to the gallery via RSS too. There’s a Freebies section with design resources as well, but be warned: some of them are no longer available gratis.
Focusing primarily on mobile web design, this gallery isn’t decked out with all the bells and whistles of the big league players. Still, Mobile Awesomeness does a great job of highlighting quality site design that’s optimized for small screens. The gallery contains individual posts for sites, with multiple screenshots for each. Keep up with the latest from them on Twitter or via RSS.
Behance is home to thousands of creative professionals who showcase their work in custom portfolios to get noticed and hired. The site also allows users to discover wonderful work with a powerful search engine, and a couple of keystrokes will bring up whatever it is you’d like to see, be they app screens or icons. Behance also has Curated galleries which feature hand-picked work from members’ portfolios, and you’ll find some lovely mobile design work to browse through in their Web Design gallery. It’s all here — all you have to do is look.