UX Design of the most famous mobile apps: why do they look alike?

The user interfaces of the most used mobile apps (like Instagram, Twitter, Airbnb) on almost all smartphones are getting more and more similar. Have you ever wondered why? And what are the implications?

02 July 2019
  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • +2

Reinventing a new UX design from scratch can be risky

Team Conflux

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02 July 2019
  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • +2


An in-depth analysis of has studied how the graphical interface of the most famous apps has changed radically in recent years, leading to a more or less recurrent and undoubtedly a more minimal layout compared to the previous versions: It is enough to think about how Instagram was in its first years of life (the logo was different, it was more elaborate, and there was a blue header bar) and how it is now.


This reduction of the interface design is not just about apps like Instagram, but also others (like Apple Music, Airbnb, Twitter) that have preferred to neaten their style, moving towards the styles with titles that are larger and bold; sans-serif and roundish fonts; few colors (if available) and a lot of space (generally black or white) between the elements.


It almost seems that the work of UX Design behind the result is absent and that all the above-mentioned apps use the same template, giving branding a level of importance or a different meaning.

Are Google’s UX designers also considering a new user interface?

It seems that even the most famous search engine in the world is willing to follow this minimalist and less colorful design trend.
One of the first changes of Google’s UX Design was shown in the most recent update of the Gmail app, in the user interface of which it was possible to notice a fall in the presence of the red color; and instead, a rise in the white color: on the top bar, buttons, input fields, background.

schermata mail

“even the most famous search engine in the world is willing to follow this minimalist and less colorful design trend”

Minimal and uniform design: A positive or a negative change?

Although at first glance, it may seem that a close similarity between different apps can cause confusion in the user experience, in reality, it is not exactly like that. Research on user experience shows that many users find it difficult to keep up with the many updates that the app’s release, also because they often involve learning to use a new user interface. The consequence is that most of the apps are downloaded or updated shortly before being deleted after the first use.


One of the most striking examples is from Snapchat, which has completely revolutionized its UX Design in a recent update, causing so much confusion and a huge dissatisfaction among its users. And consequently, a drastic drop in the number of users and in the price of shares happened.


Standardization of design instead improves the user experience, leading the user to become familiar with a certain layout and to perform certain actions on a specific site or app in a more natural way. For example, the awareness that in an e-commerce site or app, the cart is always placed in the upper right corner, which allows the user to not have to relearn how to make purchases every time he lands on a new online store.


For this reason, reinventing a new UX design from scratch can be risky, while using a layout that is consistent and uniform even between competing apps can be a great move for the user experience. Because such a move decreases the chances of undesired user experience.

UX Design: how it looks or how it works?

Don Norman, the man who introduced the term User Experience, states that “the real problem of the user interface is that, as such and by its very nature, it is something that interferes” between the user and the particular digital platform. For this reason, energies should not focus so much on the user interface in and of itself, as on the work that it should carry out.”


Although, in fact, style is important and an attractive design that covers a role of great importance for the user experience within a site or app, what is fundamental for a UX Designer is to create an interface that allows users to carry out the operation that they want in the simplest and most intuitive way possible, rather than concentrating on which color palette to use or on how many animations to insert within a page.


The usability of an app or a website is given by a series of tests that allow UX designers and researchers to create a good design that gives value to the user experience.


The paragon analyzed by UX Collective turns out to be very fitting: have you ever wondered why some prominent characters like Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg always make use of the same style for their outfits?


This is a phenomenon called Decision Fatigue: considering the energies placed in the myriad of activities carried out by the three important people, those which are used in the decisions of less depth such as the choice of clothing to wear are clearly inferior.

Obama Zuckerberg Jobs

In the same way, with this tendency of the different user interfaces to become more and more similar, the energies of a UX Designer concentrate less on the aspects of contour (for example, on the size of a button for a call to action) and instead, focus particularly on what is best for the user experience (as on why same button should exist for the call to action in question).


If you are thinking, in the light of this analysis, that a uniform UX design between the different apps will lead to a loss of creativity, know that it is not necessarily like that: a beautiful and appealing user interface does not necessarily lack a good level of usability; the important thing, of course, is that every Design choice is guided by a UX Research work starting from the needs and intentions of the user.

  • Usability
  • User Experience
  • User Interface
  • UX Design

Team Conflux


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