iOS app design guidelines and best practices

by Maisie

Designing iOS apps can be challenging for a newbie or even an experienced iOS developer. Although Apple provides Human Interface Guidelines to help developers design their apps better. If you are going to develop a new iOS app or want to redesign your existing iOS app you should hire iOS developers from a trusted mobile app development company. 

Designing apps for iOS is more or less like designing app for any other platform, however Apple comes with slightly lesser flexibility than Android and other platforms. The HIG guide though is called a guide, has some very strict guidelines that need to be followed like the holy grail. While others can be mended and avoided if needed. 

iOS app design guidelines and best practices

In this article, you will read about the top iOS app design best practices you can keep in mind when designing your new iOS app or for updating your existing iOS app design.

1. Select your color palette wisely

Colors have a huge impact on how your users perceive your brand. Each color denotes certain mood, emotion and triggers a specific response from the user. How you select your app colors and how you deploy them can make huge difference in the user’s interest in using your app. 

HIG Recommendation – use only the color palette that are available in your brand logo. 

You should make sure all the colors in your iOS app design work unanimously and creates an easy-to-follow user interface. You can demonstrate different UI elements using different colors of your color palette. This will help your user differentiate between different features of your iOS app. 

2. Make your color scheme adaptive to light and dark themes

Remember having dark mode for your iOS app is almost expected now, as users prefer darker backgrounds with high contrast text better for overall readability and battery saving. Hence, your selected colors should be such that they can be slightly changed or modified in different modes, but still hold the same design value but also not compromise app usability. 

3. Use iOS custom typography when possible 

Typography is yet another important iOS app design element that needs to be used efficiently. What fonts you use, how you place them and where you use italics, bold, underline formats can affect your app design significantly. 

HIG Recommendation: use pair of two iOS custom typefaces

Although iOS custom typefaces are very appealing, you need not necessarily use them in your app. You can make use of other fonts too, just whatever you do, make sure your app content remains legible and crisp. 

4. Create navigation

One of the design choices of iOS that stands out from other OS is the lack of access to a native sidebar. Hence, you need to include one in your iOS app yourself. You should not forget this when designing your iOS app.

HIG Recommendation: Place navbar on the top of your iOS app screen and provide a back button with the title of the previous screen

It is advisable to follow this HIG guideline as it is the most natural place to keep navigation at. 

5. Choose design elements that make use of iOS haptics

Nothing is better than reminding users that they are using their iPhones. You can do so by implementing standard UI elements that work well with iOS haptics like date pickers, sliders and switches. iPhone users are used to feeling such haptic feedbacks when navigating between native iOS apps, so if your app provides the same experience, they will appreciate it. 

6. Make sure your logo doesn’t take up too much space

Logo is an important design asset needed to reinforce your brand identity among your users. However, you should ensure it doesn’t take up too much space on your users’ screen.

There are other methods to reinforce your brand identity using different UI elements throughout your iOS app design. You can make use of glyphs, iconography and many other design elements. 

7. Don’t create your own Light/Dark Mode

Some iOS apps provide dark and light mode toggle button in their app settings which users can click to activate dark mode or light mode specific to their app irrespective of their system’s set mode. However, doing so often leads to conflict between system and app modes which can cause the app to crash. Hence, we should avoid providing a manual dark/light mode in our iOS apps. 

8. Make use of colors to mark interaction

Buttons are important elements in any app. It provides user with a scope of interaction to access some of the important features of your iOS app. Which is exactly why it is important to demarcate a button from other elements so the users understand that it is a clickable section and that they’re expected to interact with it. 

HIG Recommendation: Use tint colors for elements with interactivity. 

Doing so will help the users distinguish interactive elements from static elements of your iOS app. You can alternatively also introduce entirely different colours for interactive and non-interactive elements to mark their difference. 

9. Don’t hide the notch

iPhones always have a notch that prevents the screen being edge-to-edge. Generally, developers and designers will the urge to hide the notch area using a black overlay or black bar so that it looks like a complete rectangular screen. However, this is not the best practice in iOS app design. 


  • Your app looks smaller than its actual size.
  • Your app looks different from all other iOS apps. 

10. Optimize the app for thumb

How you place your touch targets throughout the app can make a lot of difference in how convenient your app is to use for users. If you place them too close, it would be painful for users to interact with different elements without accidentally triggering some other action. 

If they are too spaced out, or on the upper fold of the screen then thumb reach will extend which might be inconvenient to users with smaller hand spans. Hence you should keep in mind all such points before placing your app elements in your iOS app.

Final Words

These are some of the top iOS app design guidelines and best practices you should keep in mind before starting your iOS app design project. Hire dedicated developers that understand the importance of prioritizing clarity, minimalism and brand identity in your iOS app design. 

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