Whether they are creating a user onboarding workflow, the home screen for an app, or a single button, successful UX designers do more with less. 

In fact, designers are moving away from “Swiss army knife”-style applications altogether by no longer cramming features into an app. Instead, they are embracing lean, mobile-friendly apps that are designed for ease of use, not comprehensiveness. Gone are the days when apps were praised for being pocket-sized clones of their desktop cousins. Today, users want an effective, fuss-free alternative that lets them complete their tasks with fewer distractions. 

Take, for example, the mobile app for Chime, a leading online-only bank that is pushing legacy banks to innovate. It’s easy for users to become overwhelmed when managing their finances, so the UX design team at Chime has focused on making transactions smoother through reusable design elements.

As part of their design library ChimeKit, the UX team ensures that designers and developers pull from a series of pre-approved components when making changes and updates to the app. These components, which cover everything from text spacing and sizing to list layouts and drop shadows, keep the user experience seamless even as the app evolves. Less time spent figuring out how to use the app means more time successfully completing transactions. 

What are some key ways that UX designers can take this lead and reduce complexity through their designs? Here are a few to consider:

Make sure users only have to learn to use a tool once.

Many apps now feature a guided onboarding process when a user first sets up an account or opens the program. Rather than having to relearn new workflows with each new feature release, make sure users only have to learn to use the app once and that new features blend seamlessly with what they already know.

Consider what’s necessary, not just what’s new.

It’s tempting to add new features all the time as a means to improve user experience. But sometimes adding too much too quickly can actually harm the user experience. When deciding which new features to roll out and when, consider what’s absolutely necessary for the optimal user experience. Necessity, not newness, should win out. 

Prioritize users’ time.

Think about how long the average user spends on your product. For a tool like online banking, for example, users are likely making a series of smaller transactions on a mobile device while saving more significant tasks for their laptop or desktop. With that information in mind, try to design an effective user flow that prioritizes their time by offering essential tools on mobile and a full suite of features on desktop.

Stay consistent. 

While they may seem like small details, the amount of space between paragraphs, the consistent use of bullet points, and even the color of a text box can all be subtle indicators to users. If these elements are inconsistent, missing, or broken, users may get confused, discouraged, or frustrated. Ensuring even the smallest details fall within your design system can go a long way toward reducing friction and encouraging users to spend more time on your tool.

Complexity can play a role in design. But when it comes to developing digital products—particularly those used on mobile devices—it’s often better for designers to strip away distractions rather than add them. With attention spans decreasing and demand on users’ time increasing, it’s up to the UX designer to create effective experiences that help users solve problems quickly and efficiently.