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Product design

Card UI Design Examples and Best Practices for Product Owners

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Salesforce, Apple, Netflix, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, BBC. All these companies have one thing in common that you might have never noticed. They all use a card-based UI design.

Cards, cards, cards - cards are practically everywhere. Pay attention and you’ll start noticing that most of the apps and platforms these days use UI cards in one or another way. 

But why are UI cards so popular and what apps and platforms will benefit most from this solution?

We at Eleken have delivered many interesting projects using UI card design and would like to share some examples and great practices with you in this article.  

What is a UI card?

Cards are UI components, basically content containers. Usually, cards contain the image, title, description, call to action, and sometimes subheadings or icons. Cards are united by the same concept where each card represents one idea, item, or piece of content. Nielsen Norman Group defines a card as a UI design pattern that groups related information in a flexible-size container visually resembling a playing card. 

A UI card structure
A UI card contains content and actions united by a single subject. Image source: Material.io.


Card-based design is part of the modular design approach that relies on independent transformative elements. Cards in UI design refer to independent components that can be easily rearranged or customized. Nowadays it is one of the most common design layouts. And there are a few good reasons for that.

Image source: Dribble.


Best card UI design examples

If you are considering using cards for your app or platform you could use some UI card design inspiration. We collected some examples of effectively implemented UI cards:

SaaS businesses

SaaS businesses can use UI cards as a good UI solution. Tendx, one of our recent projects, is a great example to prove this. It is a platform that connects global shippers and carriers. Eleken designers used a card-based layout for most components of this platform. UI cards represent tenders, the main element of the logistics platform.

Tendx page screenshot

Media​​

Cards work great for showing brief summaries of articles, posts, and such. This is proven by such companies as X (ex-Twitter), Instagram, BBC and many others, use UI cards for posts.

X screenshot
Image source: X (ex-Twitter).


Entertainment platforms

Users browse through and interact with UI cards with entertaining content. The best example here that we all know is Netflix. Pay attention to their pop-up effects.

Netflix screenshot

E-commerce or delivery apps

In this case, UI cards make the process of browsing products or any similar items much easier and user-friendlier.

Delivery app screenshot
Image source: Dribble.


Task or activity managers

For this type of solution, you can display tasks or habits in a form of cards. Other elements in the app, like special offers or articles, can also be represented as UI cards.

Activity manager screenshot
Image source: Dribble.


Ed-tech products

Courses or teachers’ profiles can be reflected as cards. For instance, when working on the design of PublishXi, an online system for publishing educational content and creating learning programs, Eleken designers used UI cards to make the platform more interactive and simple to operate with. 

PublishXi screenshot

Dashboard apps and platforms

Card ui design patterns are a great solution for products that have a lot of dashboards. The space between cards helps the user focus and not feel overwhelmed with the complexity of dashboard data.

Dashboard app platform
Image source: Dribble.

Real estate platforms

Cards also can be a great solution for real estate platforms. Every item for purchase or rent can be reflected as a card. As a result, it simplifies the process of browsing the website.

Real estate platform screenshot
Image source: Dribble.


Apps with profiles

Dating, healthcare, consulting, pet, or any other types of apps where the main element would be the profiles are the perfect match for UI cards. Pay attention to animated features our designers used to make UI card design more engaging.

Why use card UI design?

Thanks to the bright image element, small bits of information, easy-to-click CTAs and similar, UI cards grab users’ attention. They have better scrolling rates and bring more impact than lists.

  • Highly responsive. Probably the main advantage of UI cards is that they are very adaptive. It’s the rectangular shape that makes them transformative. That is why UI cards look good on all screen sizes.
  • Easy-to-understand. UI cards are rather minimalistic and understandable design elements. Small chunks of information they reveal are easy to consume. 
  • Intuitive and UX friendly. Most users are familiar with the card interface design and can easily navigate through it. Rectangular shape and simple clickable elements make the user experience very intuitive.
  • Clickable. UI card is a perfect instrument to make clients interact with your product. Compact and well-designed cards with the right CTA make users want to click and share instantly.
  • Attractive and modern-looking. Despite the fact that card-based design has been around for a decade now it is still an up-to-date design solution. Their key visual element makes it easy to make any product attractive using this layout.

Best UI card design practices

Now when you have seen some successful card-based apps and platforms, let’s find out how to make a card design that stands out: 

  • Images are extremely important for UI card design. They are the main grabbers of users’ attention. So keep a defined visual style, as otherwise your design will look off-putting. Remember to use transparent backgrounded images for your UI cards.
  • Resolution is the key. We love cards for their responsiveness. So it’s very important not to mess it up with the wrong resolution of images. Use images for high DPI screens to avoid pixelation.
  • Round the edges. Our designers recommend this trick to create more visually appealing cards and make users feel relaxed.
Pinterest
Pinterest is one of the first card UI design examples with rounded edges.


  • Spacing is another way to shape the general look. It is recommended to leave enough space around the cards for the user’s convenience. On the other hand, no spacing at all can also look great, just like more spacious images.

Manual website shot
Example of card UI design without spacing. Image source: Behance.
  • Play with the size. Adjustable size of UI cards is your opportunity to shape the general look of your digital product. You can align UI cards and let the user focus on the content, or, on the contrary make some cards bigger than others to draw attention to them.
Image source: Dribble.

  • Use animation. It is one of the ways to make your card UI design stand out. But be careful, too many animated elements will make your design look cluttered. One animated feature or a video instead of the main image will do.
ArchStudio screenshot
Image source: Dribble.


  • Use colors, shading, and effects. Without all that, cards might look boring. For example, flipping is a very natural move borrowed from playing cards. Use it wisely and remember that it looks better on smaller cards. Scrolling is a good idea for the set of cards. But avoid scrolling within one specific card, as the content might look very confusing. 

     

Airbnb design element
Subtle gray shading around the UI card makes it look deeper. Image source: Airbnb.



  • Use different card forms for different types of devices. Mobile UI card design is not the same as web card user interface. Square cards look better on mobile devices, while rectangular cards work best for web apps or sites. Take this into account when grouping cards into columns,as mobile screens require fewer columns.
Microsoft design elements
Image source: Microsoft.


  • Less is more. Avoid cluttering your UI cards with too many buttons and content. Display only the most useful information and reveal more by drop-down or flipping.

Is card UI design always the best solution?

UI cards are great. Designers love them, developers love them, users love them. But is card UI design really a one-size-fits-all solution? Here’s where you need to decide. With skilled designers, cards really can make wonders for almost any web or mobile app. But there are  also certain things to keep in mind:

  • UI cards are less hierarchical than list layouts. They are better for browsing than for searching. So if you work with data or elements, where the order is important, it’s better to choose a more vertically structured list layout.
  • Another important reason to reconsider building your website or application with UI cards is that they are used by many companies these days. Hence it’s not easy to stand out in the crowd. On the other hand, with the right visuals, card design never looks boring.
  • Cards take more space, so for quick scanning of the titles the list is more effective. Same works for repetitive content. So if you need your user to go through a bigger amount of data or components where titles are more important than visuals then we recommend considering other layouts.
  • Cards themselves are flexible components but only to a certain extent. In the end, it’s always the number of rectangular elements. So if you are looking for something more extravagant to express your product, it makes sense to consider other design approaches. 

Conclusion

A card-based UI design has become a staple in the digital landscape. It's embraced by industry giants for its flexibility, responsiveness, and user-friendly nature. As we have seen, cards are highly adaptable, making them suitable for a wide range of applications—from SaaS businesses to media platforms, entertainment apps, and beyond. Their simplicity and intuitiveness enhance user experience, while their visual appeal adds a modern touch to any digital product.

However, while card UI design offers numerous advantages, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. The decision to use card-based design should be based on specific project needs, considering factors like content hierarchy, uniqueness, and the extent of data presentation required. Cards work exceptionally well for browsing-driven interfaces but may not be ideal for data-heavy applications where a structured list layout could be more effective.

Ultimately, the success of a card UI design hinges on thoughtful implementation. Prioritizing clear images, appropriate spacing, subtle animations, and mindful use of colors and effects can elevate the design, making it not just functional but also engaging. Remember, the goal is to create a seamless and enjoyable user experience, blending aesthetic appeal with practical utility. As with any design approach, the key is balance—leveraging the strengths of card UI design while tailoring it to fit the unique demands and identity of your product.

Don’t hesitate to drop us a line to discuss whether UI cards can benefit your product. We are happy to hear your ideas and share our expertise. 

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