Some of the best web and mobile app designs have a very limited colour range. Two or three colours can be more than enough, and I find that a restrained approach to colour works especially well on de-cluttered interfaces. 

The use of colour in design is a bit like great music, where balance, contrast, restraint and dissonance all come into play. I picked out monochrome and hypercolour as two of my 18 web design trends for 2014, but perhaps trichromatic design is where it’s really at?  

For trichromatic design it is often the case that there is a ‘main’ colour, an ‘active’ colour, and a ‘highlight’ colour. A limited palette goes further when you reverse out the colours in certain areas (menus, or buttons, for example).

I wanted to highlight some examples of mobile interfaces that primarily focus on two or three colours, along with plenty of white (or otherwise neutral) space, and a lack of unnecessary clutter. In other words: minimal design. Less is more.

So let’s take a look at a few examples. I don’t claim to have used all of these apps and sites, and one or two are concepts, so the focus here is on the look and feel, rather than the user experience. Click on the images to see more in-depth or full size screenshots.

Paratt

This is a very clean, very content-focused mobile interface, which allows product imagery and logos to inject more colour into the overall look and feel.

Help Make It

This donation-focused app uses a blend of black, white and peppermint, alongside distinctive typography.

Anhanguera

Anhanguera’s brand colours are reflected throughout its mobile site. It regularly inverts these three core colours, to mix things up for the user.

Fashion Adviser

This Fashion Adviser app designer also knows that various shades of grey work a treat alongside hot pink.

Guide

This app uses its third colour as a kind of navigational anchor for the eye.

SnelTrein

One of the nicer travel apps that I’ve seen.

PrivatBank

Icons are proving increasingly popular. Ultra-obvious icons don’t require any labels, and are better still.

Bitcoin app

An interface design for a Bitcoin app, by Karol Ortyl. Clean, strident typography, and a good example of reversing out colours.

Pawwholla

Very clean and very flat, though the colours aren’t to my taste.

The Corner

How’s this for minimal? The monochrome, type-driven approach may be too stark for some, but I like it. It looks fit for purpose…

Peek Calendar

“The calendar, humanized” is the strapline. This certainly appears to be a rather elegant way of expanding content on a mobile device, and isn’t something I’ve seen before.

DNB

This mobile app design from DNB uses three main colours to establish a compelling visual experience for users. This makes good use of limited screen estate, with clear navigation prompting the user into action.

Swing

Swing is a concept for a music app that has embraced flat design. No visual clutter. Lots of black, white and red, with images once again used to add colour.

Target

Target’s in-store mobile app relies on three main colours, and is very big on iconography, a trend in modern web design.

Fantasy League App

Really crisp typography, plenty of space, and another example of trichromatic design. Top work by Brian Waddington.

Airwala

Bajinder Singh has created a beautiful design for this travel app. Typography is design.

Outfit Of The Day

This fashion app is big on iconography and a subtle colour palette, allowing the high quality imagery to stand out.

MenuSpring

Here’s another design from London-based Ben Dunn, this time for a good-looking app aimed at restaurants.

Coffee App

Man, I’ve been waiting for something like this for years. Skinny, lightly-coloured fonts against a dark background can provide poor contrast, but the full size screenshots look better.

Unvit

An easy-on-the-eye app for connecting up multiple social networks. Icons, plenty of space, and shades rather than mutliple colours.

I hope these examples hit the spot if you’re working on ideas, interfaces, colour schemes or typography. Check out these other examples of mobile design inspiration, if you’d like some more UI candy.

If you have thoughts and observations about this kind of mobile design then do leave a comment below.

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