The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing App Colors in Mobile App Designs

The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing App Colors in Mobile App Designs
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: April 21, 2023

What’s everyone doing on their phones? What got everyone to bury their heads into the hand-held screens? Well, 88% of mobile time is spent on apps. Have you ever wondered which color dominates the app design and why is it so important?

It is already an established rule for apps that colors should play an essential role, not only as decoration but also as a form of brand identity meant to boost brand recognition.

The right combination of colors can create an emotional response and engage users to interact with the app. It can also help improve navigation by clearly separating sections or providing subtle cues to guide users.

Let this article, written in collaboration with a leading mobile app development company, guide you on everything you need to know about app colors and how to effectively apply them to your app design executions.

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Factors in Choosing the Best Colors for Apps

The first step to having great colors in your app is understanding the basic principles of color theory.

Before you begin designing, get familiar with what each color says and how they work together. Here are a few critical factors to consider when selecting colors to create the best app designs:

1. Color Psychology

Colors evoke certain emotions and can be used to influence user behavior. For example, cool colors such as blue and green can help create a calming effect and relax users.

Meanwhile, warm colors like red and orange can create excitement and draw more attention from users. Thus, use colors that may help stir your users' emotions or behavior.

Apps like Marvel: Color Your Own rely on color psychology to send their intended messages to their users.

2. Complementary Colors

When designing an app, it is also important to create contrast between elements, especially when it comes to buttons and links.

By using complementary colors, you can quickly draw attention to the particular element or action you want users to take while maintaining aesthetic balance in your design.

If you want to design an app targeting young women in their 20s, consider using bright and vibrant colors such as pink, yellow and green. Then, you can use complementary colors like blue and purple to create contrast and draw attention to essential elements or actions within the app.

Color chart apps are readily available for those who cannot decide which colors to use in their app designs.

3. Brand Color Story

Your brand color story is vital in how you use colors for your app design, as it helps build recognition for your product.

It is also essential for creating uniformity with marketing materials such as logo designs, website themes, etc.

When choosing the right app colors, consider the existing branding palette or create one that works best for your application. Colors for apps should always reflect your brand identity without missing a heartbeat.

Imagine you're designing an app geared toward young professionals. You may use a combination of light pastel colors such as pale blue, yellow and gray to create an overall professional look and feel consistent with your brand.

That way, you could exercise your creativity without straying away from the brand colors and the identity. App designers must remember that color is a powerful tool and should be used when designing applications thoughtfully. An effective color scheme can trigger the app users' emotional connection and add personality to the design.

Having a color scheme consistent with your brand ideals and personality is one key characteristic that most of the best Android and iOS app designs have.

4. Contrast & Hierarchy

Understanding contrast is critical when working on app layouts since it helps define different areas within a page.

Contrasting elements allow users to navigate more quickly as they can clearly distinguish between essential functions or sections. For example, if you're using light text on a dark background, use elements of the same color family to emphasize important buttons or navigation links. This way, users know where to go without reading too much text or straining their eyes.

On the other hand, hierarchy is used to guide users through the app. This helps ensure that essential elements are always important and that users understand which actions have more weight than others.

Here's an example: you could use a darker color for the main navigation, slightly lighter shades for menus and buttons and the lightest colors for text.

This way, you can indicate which items are more important than others. Once you understand color theory, you can start to select specific colors for your app.

5. Creating the Color Palette

A color palette is a collection of colors used in an app's design to create consistency and harmony. When selecting a color palette, there are several factors to consider, such as:

6. Primary Colors

These primary colors will represent branding and identity throughout the app design. For example, Facebook's primary colors are white and blue. These colors allow people to recognize them at first glance.

7. Secondary Colors

These accent colors will be used sparingly in certain areas or elements of the app, such as buttons or icons.

For example, in Messenger, the colors change from blue to purple and green when hovering over a button or icon.

8. Neutral Tones

Neutral tones are often used for background elements or text where it may not be desirable to have too much color. Dark mode in apps is an example of using neutral colors, such as black and gray.

These colors help set the balance, mainly if you use loud colors contrasting against each other.

9. Complementary Colors

These colors from opposite sides of the color wheel work well together to create contrast and draw attention to essential elements or actions within the app.

For instance, Twitter uses complementary colors like blue and purple for its buttons and icons.

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Using Color in App Design

Once you have created a color palette for your app, you can use the colors effectively in your design. Here are some tips for using colors to create an engaging user experience:

1. Use Bold Accents

Colors that contrast with the rest of your design can highlight essential elements or draw attention to areas of functionality. Bold accents can help users focus their attention on the correct aspects quickly.

2. Create Engagement with Color

Colors can be used to evoke emotions and cause users to take action. For example, red and orange are often associated with urgency or excitement, so they can be used for buttons that need to stand out and draw attention.

Our ultimate goal is to create an engaging experience that encourages users to stay on our app.

3. Make it Accessible

It's essential to ensure that color is used in an accessible way that meets the needs of all users.

For example, if you use a dark background for your text, make sure to add enough contrast between the colors so that anyone with low vision can read the text easily.

While we aim to have the best-looking app design in terms of the color scheme, we should not forget the comfort and accessibility for the users when they use the app.

4. Incorporate Gradients and Shading

Adding gradients and shading can give subtle depth and vibrancy to objects on-screen.

One notable example is the Facebook logo, which changes colors during Pride. You can see the gradient shading and color changes that create a sense of depth and movement.

Telegram and Messenger also follow the same rule for their icon designs. These gradients allow the users to feel that they can control anything while using these apps.

5. Create Visual Hierarchy

Using different shades of colors throughout the app will help users quickly identify elements based on their importance within the interface hierarchy.

For example, you can use bold colors for the primary elements, lighter shades for secondary details and neutral tones for background items.

Some people use colors without differentiating the shades, which can confuse users. Thus, separating colors by hierarchy can help you create a user-friendly and appealing app design.

6. Follow Standard Color Coding

Following the standard color coding used in apps makes it easier for users to identify specific elements quickly, such as a red delete button or green accept button.

Changing the colors for specific commands can be confusing. If you change the red delete button to green, or vice versa, it will take users longer to recognize the control and its purpose.

7. Use Consistency

Reusing colors throughout the app will create consistency and make it easier for users to navigate the design.

Why is this important? Consistency is key! Sticking to a consistent color palette allows users to quickly recognize where they are within the app and easily move between sections.

8. Test Your Color Palette

Finally, ensure that you test your color palette with real users to guarantee it is easy to understand and use. Ask them to identify specific elements or complete tasks quickly using the colors you've chosen.

That way, you can be sure that the colors you've chosen are intuitive and easy to use.

Color Trends To Follow for App Design in 2023

Now that we have discussed all the basics in choosing colors for your app design, here are some trends you should keep an eye on for 2023.

1. Bright Pastels

Blending between pastel and primary colors is a great way to add vibrancy and create an eye-catching aesthetic.

A great example is the Instagram icon, which blends pink and purple. These colors are popular, especially with the younger demographic, so many app designers consider that when designing apps specifically for them.

2. Duotone Colors

Duotone colors (also known as split-tone) are two tones that blend to create something unique. They are usually two pastel or primary colors used separately but work together when combined.

The popular music streaming app Spotify is an excellent example of this, as it uses shades of green and black for its icon. Be sure to use colors that complement each other.

3. Bold Color Combinations

Pushing the boundaries with bold, unexpected color combinations can differentiate your app from others in the market.

Bondee, a new social media app, uses various bold colors for their app to signify youth and energy.

People are often afraid to use bright colors, but using them strategically can be an incredible way to grab attention.

4. Earth Tones

Natural, earthy tones are becoming increasingly popular for creating a calm, soothing atmosphere within apps and providing an organic feel that connects users to nature.

5. Gradients

The use of gradients has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and this trend is here to stay.

Gradients can add depth and dimension to app elements without overwhelming the user.

Considering these color trends and the basics discussed in this article, you will effectively create a color scheme for your app that will make users feel comfortable and engage with your design.

6. Helpful Tips To Remember

One thing you must remember in choosing the right colors for your app is that they should resonate with your users and complement your brand.

Use neutral colors, such as gray or white, when in doubt. These colors are usually accepted universally and will provide an aesthetically pleasing experience for your users.

You can never go wrong with these colors, but also avoid going too crazy with them – stick to the basics and find a balance between the colors you choose.

Finally, remember to keep your color scheme consistent throughout the entire app. This will help users quickly recognize elements or pages in the app, making for an overall seamless user experience.


In a nutshell, colors in app designs help create an engaging user experience and differentiate your product from competitors.

Selecting the right colors for your palette involves considering factors such as branding identity, accessibility options, platform consistency, readability and user demographics.

Choosing colors for your app should be fun and creative – explore different options and use this article to ensure you pick the perfect palette for your product!

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