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Friday, October 27, 2023

App Interface Design Templates for Fast Prototyping


Building a mobile app from scratch is an extensive process that requires significant time and effort to design, develop, and iterate on the user interface. App interface design templates provide pre-built components and layouts to help teams jumpstart the design process and quickly create prototypes for validation and user testing.

Rather than reinventing the wheel with each new screen or flow, designers can mix and match polished templates as building blocks. This accelerates prototyping by focusing efforts on custom and innovative elements that differentiate the app experience. Templates act as shortcuts for commonly used patterns like login screens, settings pages, and profile views.

While templates are meant to be customized, they offer an informed starting point based on industry best practices. Teams can then tailor the templates for their specific app design language and goals. Used strategically, design templates enable faster experimentation, tighter collaboration, and a streamlined path to hi-fi prototypes.

Types of App Interface Templates

App interface templates come in several forms to meet diverse design needs across platforms and devices:

Layout Templates

These provide commonly used app screen layouts and flows:

  • Header navigation templates
  • Tab bar navigation templates
  • Settings screen templates
  • Profile screen templates
  • Onboarding flow templates
  • E-commerce product page templates
  • Messaging and chat screen templates

UI Component Libraries

Reusable UI widgets and elements for building interfaces:

  • Buttons, toggles, switches
  • Input fields, search bars, select menus
  • Cards, lists, grids
  • Navigation menus, bottom tabs
  • Alerts, dialog popups
  • Loading indicators, empty states

Full App Templates

Complete app designs for specific use cases:

  • Messaging and chat app templates
  • Music and audio app templates
  • Social media app templates
  • E-commerce app templates
  • Travel and booking app templates
  • Banking and finance app templates

Platform-Specific Templates

Tailored templates for each platform's OS:

  • iOS templates with proper HIG
  • Android templates following Material Design
  • Responsive web app templates
  • Templates for Apple Watch, tablets, etc.
  • Cross-platform templates built with React Native
  • Electron app templates for Mac, Windows, Linux

Prototyping Focused Templates

Optimized for use in prototyping apps:

  • Sketch libraries with controllers and symbols
  • Adobe XD component kits
  • Figma files with variants and auto-layout
  • Templates prepped for Principle prototyping
  • Framer design system templates
  • Photoshop layout templates with smart objects

Sourcing Quality App Templates

Finding great app templates takes some research across marketplaces, software tools, and independent designers:


  • Thousands of templates from many designers and brands on sites like UI8 and ThemeForest
  • Good way to survey many styles and find niche options
  • Can browse by platform, software, design style
  • Often include source files, exports, documentation
  • Regular updates and additions

Software Libraries

  • Integrate directly into tools like Figma or XD
  • Components created specifically for design workflows
  • Get updates through the design tool
  • Can be limiting if tied to one ecosystem
  • Usually more focused on UI components

Independent Designers

  • Get very tailored, specialized templates
  • Support individuals directly
  • Designers often take custom requests
  • Harder to evaluate quality beforehand
  • Updates and fixes may be irregular

Open Source Options

  • Completely free libraries like Tailwind UI and Float UI
  • Great for basic components and utilities
  • Very customizable and developer-focused
  • Usually minimal documentation
  • Not full app or industry-specific templates

Integrating Templates into Your Workflow

Leveraging templates effectively requires some strategy:

Customizing Templates

  • Swap color palettes and fonts
  • Tweak padding, sizing, and layouts
  • Replace icons and imagery
  • Redraw vectors to match brand style
  • Add microanimations and transitions

Maintaining Libraries

  • Centralize approved components in a source of truth
  • Tag with metadata like platform, type, etc.
  • Keep updated versions as improvements are made
  • Automate syncing to team design tools
  • Version control so developers can track changes

Collaborating Efficiently

  • Use linked libraries instead of static exports
  • Enable co-editing rather than emailing files
  • Give feedback and suggestions on components
  • Update via cloud rather than local copies
  • Use design system documentation for reference

For example, Figma's ability to create component libraries with variants empowers teams to efficiently collaborate on iterating templates for their custom app interfaces.

Benefits of Using Interface Templates

Strategic use of app templates offers many advantages:

  • Jumpstart designs with polished starting points
  • Speed up prototyping and iteration cycles
  • Focus design efforts on custom and unique elements
  • Easily mock up common interface patterns
  • Maintain consistency across platforms
  • Simplify and streamline team collaboration
  • Reduces workload for individual designers

For example, a messaging app like WhatsApp likely leveraged tab bar navigation templates to quickly build their Android and iOS apps with a consistent experience. Rather than designing those navigation flows from scratch, they could focus on innovative messaging features.

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

However, there are some pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Can lead to overreliance on templates
  • Requires tweaking templates to fit brand style
  • Don't want to end up with generic-looking apps
  • Updating many copies of templates can be tedious
  • Not always optimized for production implementation
  • Finding quality templates takes curation

Open Source vs Paid Templates

Open source templates like those from Float UI offer extreme flexibility and customization given their publicly accessible codebase. However, they may lack the visual polish and documentation of paid counterparts.

Paid templates from marketplaces provide professionally designed components out-of-the-box. Yet they can get expensive and may lock you into a certain design ecosystem.

Teams should weigh the tradeoffs of customizability vs polish when choosing between open source and paid app templates.

Conclusion and Summary

App interface design templates enable teams to jumpstart the design process and accelerate prototyping. By providing reusable components and layouts, they allow designers to focus on innovative custom elements rather than reinventing common patterns.

Sourcing high-quality templates involves curation across marketplaces, software libraries, independent designers, and open source options. Strategic integration and customization is key to leveraging templates smoothly.

Used thoughtfully, interface templates can streamline collaboration, maintain consistency, and empower designers to create truly unique and tailored app experiences. They reduce repetitive work to focus energy on creative solutions and custom designs. With the right strategy, app templates help teams build and test prototypes faster.

Check out Float UI's open source Tailwind CSS component library to explore adding polished templates into your team's design workflow.