What does a rounded interface mean?


  • A rounded interface design uses curved edges on buttons, icons, dialog boxes, and other UI components instead of sharp corners. 
  • Rounded shapes create a softer, more inviting, and visually pleasing user experience. 
  • Rounded elements evoke feelings of safety, friendliness, and approachability, making users more comfortable and engaged.
  • Examples of rounded interfaces include Apple's iOS, which has influenced the design of many apps, and Google's Material Design, known for its friendly and approachable look. 
  • Social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter use rounded elements to enhance visual appeal.
  • Rounded interfaces are easier on the eyes, less cluttered, and more intuitive, leading to a better user experience.

Detailed answer

A rounded interface design uses curved edges on buttons, icons, dialog boxes, and other UI components, instead of sharp corners. This approach creates a softer, more inviting, and visually pleasing user experience compared to rectangular designs with sharp edges. 

Here are some examples:

Apple's iOS: Since iOS 7, Apple has used rounded interfaces throughout its mobile operating system, influencing the design of countless apps.

Three iPhone screens showing rounded UI elements: control center toggles, brightness adjustment slider, and Apple News+ magazine page.


Even beyond iOS, the Apple ecosystem is full of rounded edges. You can see this design choice in the MacBook frame, the iPad keyboard, and the HomePod.

Close-up of a keyboard connected to a tablet displaying a "Follow-Up" list.


Google's Material Design: This design system, popular in both web and mobile applications, features rounded corners to create a friendly and approachable look.

Google search interface displayed on two smartphones and a web browser, showcasing rounded UI elements and navigation shortcuts.


Social media apps: Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook use rounded elements to enhance their visual appeal.

In 2022, when YouTube updated its UI design, one of the most notable changes was the switch to oval corners for the subscribe button.

Comparison of YouTube button designs before and after a redesign, showing buttons with sharper edges before, and rounded edges after.


What is so remarkable about rounded edges?

Rounded UI looks more friendly and approachable

Humans are wired to see sharp objects as dangerous, which triggers caution. Rounded interfaces offer a softer, more visually pleasing look that's easier on the eyes and less jarring than sharp corners. They evoke feelings of safety, friendliness, and approachability. This instinctive response makes users feel more comfortable and willing to engage with the interface.

The idea that humans naturally prefer rounded shapes is backed by research. A 2006 study by Moshe Bar and Maital Neta found that participants consistently rated curved objects as more aesthetically pleasing than angular ones.

Rounded UI is more legible 

Rounded UI components require less cognitive load to process. Since we often see curved shapes in nature, rounded forms feel more natural and gentle. This is especially helpful in interfaces with lots of text or complex elements, as it breaks up long sections and makes the design feel less overwhelming.

Rounded UI is more intuitive and looks less cluttered

Rounded corners point inwards, helping to draw users' attention to the contents within an element. This can enhance focus and make it easier to navigate through the interface, as seen in the redesign of Chrome's tabs to improve productivity and ease of use.

Comparison of Chrome's tab design before and after the redesign, showing sharper edges before and rounded edges after.


As Chrome’s product management put it: “Are you a secret tab-hoarder? No judgment. We changed the shape of our tabs so the website icons are easier to see, making it simpler to navigate across lots of tabs.”

Rounded edges can create additional white space within a grid layout, providing breathing room and reducing the feeling of clutter. This is particularly noticeable in platforms like Pinterest, where rounded image borders make the layout feel more organized and less overwhelming compared to rectangular layouts.

Keep in mind: While rounded elements are popular, they aren’t always the best fit. It’s important to consider the rationale behind our design choices.

At the end of the day, we’re designing for users. That means our decisions should be grounded in solid user testing and research. Connect with users, run A/B tests, and truly understand what your audience needs and the challenges you’re addressing.

❓Questions designers should ask themselves

By asking the right questions, designers can question their decisions, find areas to improve, make sure nothing is overlooked, and reduce mistakes, leading to better, more thoughtful designs.

  • What is the primary goal of the application, and how can rounded elements support that goal?
  • How can the use of rounded edges enhance the visual hierarchy and guide users through the interface?
  • What is the appropriate level of rounding for different UI elements (e.g., buttons, cards, input fields) to maintain consistency and usability?
  • Are there any specific brand guidelines or design system requirements that need to be taken into account?
  • How can rounded elements be integrated with the brand's visual identity and design system?
  • Are there any accessibility considerations to keep in mind when implementing rounded edges, such as ensuring sufficient contrast and size for users with visual impairments?

⚠️ Common mistakes to avoid

Learning from your mistakes is important, but many problems can indeed be predicted and avoided. Based on Cieden's collective expertise, we're sharing the most common ones.

  • Overuse of rounded elements: Applying rounded edges to every UI component can lead to visual clutter and reduce the impact of the design. Use rounding strategically and sparingly to maintain a clear visual hierarchy.
  • Inconsistent rounding: Using different levels of rounding across the interface can create a disjointed and unprofessional appearance. Establish a consistent rounding style guide and adhere to it throughout the application.
  • Neglecting accessibility: Ensure that rounded elements maintain sufficient contrast and size to be easily distinguishable and interactive for users with visual impairments or motor difficulties.
  • Failing to consider context: The use of rounded elements should align with the overall tone, purpose, and target audience of the application. Consider whether rounded interfaces are appropriate for the specific context and adjust accordingly.

🤝 Credits

Our content combines the knowledge of Cieden’s designers with insights from industry influencers. Big thanks to all the influencers for sharing awesome content!

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