Common UI Elements and How to Use them in Mobile App Development
When you design the User Interface (UI) for an app or a website, the UI elements play a crucial role in how your users will interact, experience, and engage with your app.
Functional and more appealing UI elements equal more downloads and active users, better retention rates, and better lifetime value (LTV). The web has thousands of examples that prove this delicate relation between visuals and the success of brands.
There are many ways you can employ UI elements and improve the design of your mobile app. Therefore, a primary objective in app development is to make enjoyable interfaces by incorporating practical UI elements in its design.
What Are UI Elements?
User Interface elements are all parts developers use to create a beacon for users where app features perfectly match their intent. To align users’ expectations and practices to your interface is a complicated and ever-changing process. It usually goes the other way around – you adapt your UI to how human perception develops. The ultimate sculptor of how your interface influences the growth of your business is not in the hands of your UI designers – but your end customer.
When designing the interface, there is always a massive dose of interactivity at play. From the user’s perspective, interacting with the mobile app involves all kinds of buttons, scroll bars, menus, and checkboxes that are intuitive, easy to understand, and perform the assigned task. All the elements involved must be intuitive as standalone items, of course, but most importantly, they have to make the most sense as part of a bigger picture. They must be an inseparable part of each other, as readily recognizable as the brand itself. A tough job for all designers, no doubt – but what about the role of developers in setting the perfect UI?
The developers’ task is to anticipate what actions the user will perform when using the app features and ensure that all the UI elements provide the ultimate support in completing those actions, most straightforwardly and enjoyably.
UI design is very tightly related to UX (User Experience). While UX is more about the analytical and logical side of designing interfaces, UI is more about the visual side. But it would help if you had the combined effort of both to build out the best environment for your users.
UI Elements Every Mobile App Needs
The user interface clearly explains what elements provide information, navigation, input, or container functionality to the user.
- Information components share information with users - examples include icons, notifications, messaging layout, and chat boxes.
- Navigation components help users move around the app - search fields, sliders, and tags, to name a few.
- Input control components let users enter information into the app - think of buttons, dropdown lists, dialog boxes, and text fields.
- Container components hold linked content together - accordion menus are one example.
Mobile apps provide interaction by implementing a touchscreen GUI (Graphical User Interface). Graphical UI elements are the most convenient method for user interaction with mobile apps because they are self-explanatory and add to both the app design value and functionality value.
Common Ways to Add UI Elements to Your App
Regardless of which OS you are using to build a mobile app, you can approach UI design using existing UI elements for Android and iOS or implement some level of customization depending on user needs.
For example, to build a simple interface consisting of a text box and a button, and Android developer will use the Android Studio Layout Editor. Additionally, your design team can build a compound component by controlling the existing component arrangement on the screen.
XCode, the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for macOS and iOS, contains a built-in Interface Builder that iOS developers can use to design interface objects and construct graphical user interfaces. Also, there’s a fundamental difference between macOS and iOS that changes the UI game completely. While macOS relies on how you interact with an interface using a mouse cursor, iOS is about interactivity through a touch screen.
I If you decide to reinvent a UI interface from zero, start by developing a UI component design system that will bring together design and code into a unique concept representing mobile app branding. The UI component design provides consistency in patterns, text styles, colors, and assets. Whenever you take a job as hard as building up a complete component inventory from the ground up, consistency is detrimental.
Keep in mind that the terms’ components’ are ‘elements’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but they do not carry the same meaning. A component is a group of logically related elements, ready to participate in another, completely different part of the application. UI elements are the building blocks of components.
Today, it is not as common to build UI elements from scratch because mobile app developers have ready-made UI component libraries to create unique features. Although these libraries are based on a rich history of UI development, they usually undergo a heavy modification, before they become what the initial plan intended.
UI libraries are modular and versatile, which means that you can use them in various ways. As essential building elements, they are the Lego blocks of UI you can use to build unique layouts for different mobile apps, leaving the actual outcome limited by pure imagination.
UI Customization with UI Libraries and UI Toolkits
Using open-source UI libraries requires substantial knowledge of how they perform in complex mobile app systems and how they support Google and Apple design guidelines. Therefore, you need solid preparation to compile everything available into one neat, appealing UI concept that serves your customers better than expected. Using UI toolkits, you simplify the UI design process and shorten the time to a ready mobile app. If you are running short on time, a UI kit will add rather than extract value from your project. Always think of UI elements in terms of responsiveness, efficiency, and accessibility to improve the critical success metrics for your mobile app and turn potential customers into loyal fans.
If you like this article, feel free to check some of our other blogs dedicated to best UI/UX practices.