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UI Design

The Secrets of Mobile Games UI Design

Did you know that 88.9% of people around the world play mobile games?
A game’s UI is the first thing players see after running your game, and so it’s the main hook for attracting players to your game. In this post, we talk about how to come up with a mobile game UI design that will make your players coming back for more.

This post will be specially useful for:

  • Those who are looking to understand the concept of Mobile Game UI design
  • Managers looking to hire a Mobile Game UI designer
  • Those looking to learn Mobile Game UI design
  • Artists looking for an idea to design UI for a Mobile Game

7 Essentials of a Good Mobile Game UI

How you feel about a game depends largely on the user interface design. UI design is the main reason why you can easily interact with a game for hours, while another game makes you frustrated after 5 minutes.

Now the question is, what is a mobile game user interface? Mobile game UI is the point of interaction between you and a game. 7 basic elements of a good mobile game UI design are:

  • Clarity,
  • Discriminability,
  • Conciseness,
  • Consistency,
  • Detectability,
  • Legibility,
  • and Comprehensibility

UI Design Terminology

In designing UI for mobile games, you will probably come across three important terms:

– Graphical User Interface (GUI)

GUI is a subset of UI that comprises almost the entire UI done for a game; to such an extent that GUI and UI are often used interchangeably in game design. 

– Heads-up Display (HUD)

HUD (Heads-up display) is an integral part of any video game. HUD is the display area where players can see mission objectives, current health, bonus attributes, armor level, ammunition count, and more. 

When players are in the game, a good HUD must show important information while not being distracting. Also, the HUD should not overwhelm the player with too much information.

Mobile game HUD design requires us to consider some important things. In addition to the small screen, mobile phones have different screen sizes, and in recent years almost all companies have added notches to their smartphones. These features cause limitations in HUD design for mobile games.

– Interaction Design (IXD)

Interaction Design (IXD) is the structure and behavior of interactive systems of a mobile game. A good IXD can create meaningful relationships between players and the game. IXD designers should study how a user interacts with games and facilitates the actions we want to be taken by players.

Importance of Efficient Mobile Game UI Design

With the growth of the gaming industry for mobile devices, competition between game developers has intensified. Mobile game UI design is the way through which you can improve the user’s overall experience.

So, game developers should try to make the player enjoy interacting with the game. Mobile game UI design requires a good understanding of player needs.

Crazy Clowns - mobile game ui - character select UI - fun UI
Crazy Clowns character select UI by Pixune Studio.

Today, mobile games are made in different genres. The audience of each genre has a different personality than the audience of other genres. Understanding the needs of players requires knowing them.

To understand this, you first need to know who your audience is. What do they like or dislike? If you know the exact answer to this question and use it to design your mobile game UI, you will have a great chance to beat your competitors.

Different Art Styles of Mobile Game UI Design

The art style is an important issue in attracting players. The art style of a game designed to attract women is very different from a game designed for men.

Understanding this requires a thorough study of the players’ personalities. Our target community determines the best art style for each game.

mobile game - game art styles - captain crocodile -
Art style has a great impact on the design of characters, colors, shape of buttons, and so on.

You should also pay attention to the current trends in the world. What is appealing today may not be appealing to the player next year. Of course, some principles do not change much for the general public. For example, children like bright and cheerful colors.

On the other hand, you have to consider the balance in the design. What we mean by “balance” is the understanding of the differences between men and women with different age groups. These are just some tips that you should use for designing UI for a mobile game.

How to Design a Beautiful UI for a Mobile Game

If you want to design a UI by yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Try to play games similar to the one you’re making. This will make your mind ready for new ideas that will put you ahead of your competitors.

Searching on Google is the best source for learning anything. There are many sites that teach you how to design UI for your mobile game. Also, don’t forget YouTube.

Many videos from various designers have been uploaded to YouTube and you just have to watch them, but practice and perseverance will help you learn quickly.

Mobile Game UI Design Process

Before diving deeper into the intricacies that make up for a good mobile game UI design, let’s discuss the process that goes into its creation.

Analyzing and ideation 

guy thinking - guy with glasses - bearded blonde guy - blue shirt - Curious
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Abraham Lincoln

First of all, the most important thing for you is to find an accurate understanding of your game. What exactly do you want to do? Do you make a game for kids or a game for professional gamers?

You have to visualize your game in your mind. Even before the game is made, you can put yourself in the players’ shoes and play the game in your mind. When you think about everything the player needs to interact with the game, it’s time for the second step.

Wireframe Design

mobile game UI design - scrum - pen and paper
The pen is the tongue of the mind. Let what you have in mind be drawn on paper.

At this point, you have to write down the UI elements needed by the players. Having a wireframe design can help you a lot. For example, you can draw the shape of the buttons at this point. Are they circular or square? Are they glossy or matte? What will the text font look like?

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on the exact details, but keep in mind how elements will look. You can get a lot of ideas by reviewing inspirational references. Tools that can help you in the wireframing are:

Sketch

mobile game ui design - laptop - design pad - camera
Sketch your initial designs and keep mobile game UI design basics in mind. 

Once the wireframe design is complete, you can prepare the sketches. At this stage, you can use these UI design tools for mobile games. Here are top 14 mobile game UI design tools:

Modifying

mobile game ui design - laptop - design pad - colors - color pencils
Modify and modify again. Everything can be improved.

You can test the game when it is made with your designed UI. Our suggestion is to show the game to a few other people who don’t know you.

You don’t have to say anything or guide them. Just watch them playing. Can they easily communicate with the game? This will help you understand the flaws and correct them.

4 Useful Sites for Mobile Game UI Design Inspiration

Access to inspirational resources is very simple. You are just one click away from these resources. Here are the top 4 best sites for mobile game UI design inspiration:

  1. Pinterest
  2. Freepik
  3. Behance
  4. Dribbble

8 Mobile Games with Extraordinary UI Design

One of the best ways to get inspired is to take a look at successful games in the top charts of AppStore or Google play store.  Evaluating them will help us to understand their strengths and weaknesses and find a better understanding of UI design for our mobile games. Here are 8 games with extraordinary UI design:

Alto’s Odyssey

“Alto’s Odyssey” is a Sequel for “Alto’s Adventure”, a hit game by Noodlecake Studios Inc. 

Badland

“Badland” is the game of the year with more than 50 MILLION players. This beautiful game is a standout game published by Frogmind. 

Machinarium

“Machinarium” is the award-winning adventure game developed by Amanita Design.  This game has win IGF, Excellence in Visual Art Award. 

Samorost 3

Another game by Amanita Design. “Samorost 3” is the most ambitious experience of this Czech indie studio.

Homescapes

“Homescapes” is one of the best match-3 games with colorful  Interior design and A huge, beautiful mansion published by Playrix. 

Pudding Monsters

“Pudding Monsters” is a casual and fun game by ZeptoLab, who developed “Cut the Rope”. This game is a deliciously addicting puzzle adventure with wacky characters and innovative gameplay.

Clash of Clans

Who has never heard the name of “Clash of Clans”? This game with extraordinary UI design has millions of players worldwide. Supercell is one of the best companies in making strategy games.

Subway Surfers

“Subway Surfers” is one of the most downloaded mobile games with more than 1 billion installs.  Kiloo and Sybo did a great job in designing this game. 

10 Common Mobile Game UI Design Mistakes

Here is a list of the most common mistakes by UI artists working in the game industry. Knowing them will enable you to avoid them and save a considerable amount of time/effort.

1. Inconsistency

One of the most common and worst mistakes in mobile game UI design is Inconsistency between design elements. If there is a mismatch between the design elements, it will cause user dissatisfaction.

To have a coherent and consistent design, you should avoid using too many different styles. Instead, having a design with a consistent look will create confidence and a pleasant experience for users.

2. Incomprehensible Elements

Your design should be clear, and it should always meet players’ expectations. If players cannot read texts easily, or can’t understand the meaning of shapes, they will confuse and uninstall your game. You must avoid buttons that are too small or are hard to see.

3. Non-responsive Design

Another common mistake in UI design for mobile games is non-responsive design. Today, mobile devices are made with different screen sizes and you have to consider all of them.

The screen of some mobile phones has a notch, and if the placement of your design elements is not correct, they will not be seen on those phones. The responsive design is necessary to attract a lot of players to your game.

4. Too Much Information

Some designers believe that if they provide more information to the players, the players will understand the concept better, but this belief is not true at all.

The most important thing in mobile game UI design is simplicity and easier transfer of messages to players. Therefore, using understandable and familiar elements with the audience’s mind will have a great impact on solving this problem.

5. Bad Placement of buttons

In some games, the player has to do a lot of actions. We need to help him play more easily by placing the buttons well. Also, buttons with important action should be further away from other elements so that they are not activated by mistake.

easy vs hard - choosing - vector art - yellow and black - choice
We should not force a player to take a difficult path by misplacing a button.

6. Low Contrast

One of the most important elements in a game is creating contrast. When you have poor contrast between the UI elements of your mobile game, the appearance of all the elements will be similar to each other, and this will lead to the boredom of the user.

For example, is it right to put a green button on a green background? Certainly not. If the colors of these two are different, the user’s attention will be more focused.

Also, You can explain a lot to the audience by creating contrast. For example, the dangerous area and the safe area can be shown by the color contrast between red and green. 

color contrast - green - low contrast - mobile game ui design
The player must be able to distinguish the elements from each other easily .

7. Indulging Yourself

It will be easier if you evaluate your audience and know what audience you are going to design for. In this way, you can design according to the needs of players and prevent the most common mistakes that may occur. As much as possible, You have to put yourself in the players’ shoes and look at the UI elements from their point of view.

8. Making the Audience Think

What is clear and understandable to you may not be clear to the players. You should try to use intuitive elements in your mobile game UI.

This causes the players to encounter elements that have formed in their subconscious. Most mobile game players don’t have the time to think deeply about the game, so you need to convey the goal of elements in the simplest way possible.

left hemisphere vs right hemisphere - human brain art - red and purple
The easiest way to convey content to a player is to use intuitive elements.

9. Attention to Creativity Rather than Usability

Although creativity is a very important element in designing UI for mobile games, overwork will reduce its quality. Always focus on your goal. Our goal is to make players enjoy playing. They have to play our game for a long time.

So while a beautiful and creative look may appeal to them at first glance, if we sacrifice usability for creativity, players will get tired of playing in the long run.

10. Become Rule or Trend-obsessed

Finally, always remember that you don’t have to stick to principles too much and always come up with a repetitive design. All you have to do is dedicate 70 percent of your focus to game UI design rules for mobile games and spend 30 percent of your effort on innovation.

How to Hire the Best Mobile Game UI Designers

Your choices decide your fate. Take the time to choose the right one. 

We talked about how to design UI for mobile games, inspirational resources, examples, tools, and the design process. You can design a game UI for your own game by yourself. However, there are those who want to give the job to an expert. 

There are many ways to find a mobile game UI designer. Sites that offer freelance services, such as freelancers, Upwork, Guru can help you to hire a UI designer. But trusting a freelancer also has its problems.

You need to make sure that your work is done in the best possible way and with the highest quality. At Pixune Studio, we’ve put together a team of the best mobile game UI designers ready to work on your game.

Pixune is an award-winning studio that designed art of more than 30 games. We have won 4 awards for Development & Game Design. We follow the latest methods and tools in our designing process.

You can check out our portfolio here and if you want to get a free quote for mobile game UI design, click here.

Just one of the mobile game UIs designed by Pixune

Conclusion

In summary, mobile game UI design is nothing but understanding the importance of the optimal interaction between the player and the game. If this interaction does not happen properly, the player will leave the game very soon. As we know, two heads are better than one.

So we have to consult with experts and do our best to attract the players. Have you found your reliable and professional consultant? We are ready to answer your questions. 

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