How to Create a Stunning iOS App Design

iOS app design is all about creating a visual experience that captivates users and enhances usability. One crucial aspect of this process is selecting the right colors. In this article, we’ll explore how to design an iOS app that stands out with a custom color palette while adhering to Apple’s guidelines.

Semantic Colors: Adding Meaning to Your Design

iOS provides a range of system and semantic colors that automatically adapt to various settings and appearance modes. Semantic colors have names that reflect their purpose, such as Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary. These colors help differentiate content based on hierarchy levels.

When defining a custom color for a Primary Background, for example, it’s essential to choose a unique name that reflects your brand or app. Avoid using the same name as an iOS system color to prevent confusion.

Custom colors defined in Figma

Choosing Your Primary Color

The primary color sets the tone and personality of your app. It appears frequently across screens and components, representing primary actions. Additionally, you can use shades of the primary color to accent certain UI elements or interactions like Tap and Press.

To generate color shades in Figma, a helpful plugin is available. It simplifies the process of creating a cohesive color palette.

Primary colors defined in Figma
Examples of primary colors in popular mobile apps

Secondary and Accent Colors: Adding Depth and Variety

Secondary colors complement the primary color and add depth to your design. They provide visual variety and help create a visually engaging interface.

Accent colors, on the other hand, are a subset of secondary colors. They play a crucial role in highlighting important actions and controls within your app, such as selection controls, progress bars, and links.

To find complementary secondary colors, consider using color scheme generators like Coolors. As a general guideline, aim for 1 primary color, 1-2 secondary colors, and 1-3 accent colors.

Examples of secondary and accent colors

Fill Colors: Creating Transparent UI Elements

Fill colors in iOS allow the background color to show through UI elements. These colors have varying opacities for different color variants:

  • Primary Fill Color: Used for thin and small shapes, like a slider’s track.
  • Secondary Fill Color: For medium-sized shapes, such as switch backgrounds.
  • Tertiary Fill Color: For larger shapes, like input fields, search bars, or buttons.

iOS Fill colors
Custom Fill colors defined in Figma

Background Colors: Differentiating Content and Elements

iOS defines color variants for background colors, making it easier to differentiate between grouped and non-grouped content and elements.

  • Primary: Represents the overall view, serving as the main background of your app.
  • Secondary: Used to group content or elements within the overall view.
  • Tertiary: For grouping content or elements within secondary elements.

Background layers in iOS
Example of background colors in a mobile app

Label Colors: Adding Emphasis and Context

Label colors help emphasize specific text or content and provide contextual information to users. They come in primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary variations, each with its own level of transparency.

  • Primary Label Color: Used to highlight important text, titles, field labels, or input controls.
  • Secondary Label Color: Used for captions or supporting information in forms, lists, or tables.
  • Tertiary Label Color: Displayed for less important text or supplementary details.

Example of label colors in a mobile app

Separator Colors: Visual Hierarchy and Structure

Separators are thin horizontal lines that visually separate groups of content in your app. iOS offers two types of separator colors: transparent separators with varying levels of transparency and opaque separators.

Custom separator colors defined in Figma
Example of separator colors in a mobile app

Functional Colors: Adding Context and Feedback

Functional colors are essential for indicating the state or status of UI elements or providing context and feedback to users.

  • Success State: Green indicates a successful completion of a task or correctly filled out form.
  • Warning State: Yellow or orange warns users about potential issues or incomplete actions.
  • Error State: Red signals errors, either in text, background colors, or specific elements like buttons.

Functional colors defined in Figma
Examples of functional colors in mobile apps

Color Management Made Easy

To streamline color management, several useful Figma plugins are available:

  1. Color Palette Generator: Generates a color palette based on a single color you provide.
  2. Color Contrast Checker: Ensures your color choices meet accessibility guidelines by checking contrast ratios.
  3. Colorblind Simulator: Allows you to view designs through the eyes of users with different color vision deficiencies.
  4. Dark Mode Magic: Generates a Dark theme based on your Light theme.

Using these plugins, you can simplify the color design process and ensure your app looks great across all devices.

Remember, creating a visually stunning iOS app is all about choosing the right colors. By following Apple’s guidelines and incorporating your unique design elements, you can create an engaging and aesthetically pleasing app for users to enjoy.