In this post, I have put together just over 70 resources for developing mobile websites and web applications.
This collection is more focused on HTML5 / CSS3 / JS webapps as opposed to frameworks or native applications. The purpose is to give your mobile webapp a similar look & feel commonplace with native interfaces.
Designing for Mobile Devices
When the first iPhone was released it took the tech world by storm. Since then it has been... Read more
PSDs & UI Graphics
Free PSDs are generally the most helpful assets to web developers. If you are not savvy in Photoshop then it can be stressful attempting to design a beautiful interface.
Likewise this set of graphics will include plenty of buttons, forms, textures, toolbars, and other helpful GUI kits.
Similar to the first GUI kit we can also find mobile elements related to Android-based native applications.
Depending on how you want to style your mobile webapp these two graphics packs may provide everything you will need. Sticking with basic styles will make your designs appear more blended into the device.
As for more advanced UI kits we have this awesome iPhone app design PSD. This is for a mobile app Passbook which includes a series of screenshots from different pages.
The whole design is layered and free to download.
Menu tooltips are not as common but this doesn’t mean they serve no purpose in an HTML5 webapp. The icons and button styles may be repeated either through images or CSS3 codes. This will give you a leg-up on the competition with a rich interface style.
The designers over at MediaLoot publish both free and premium content. However a lot of their free content is still of exceptional quality. This UI kit is labeled Fresh iPhone and displays a helpful iOS app design.
You can work with the PSD graphics to duplicate similar title bars and gradients/textures in your own webapp.
Toggle switches are actually native to iOS devices but not found anywhere in HTML5/CSS3. Using this PSD graphic you may attempt to build a similarly styled toggle switch with a more pleasing color scheme.
The backgrounds are much deeper than the normal interface elements plus the text is also larger and easier to read.
365psd is an amazing website which is still publishing new freebies continually every day. Going back in time a bit I want to reference the Cloudy UI Kit which is full of amazing graphical elements.
We can find buttons, search bars, sliders, on/off switches, dropdown menus, and tons of other cool stuff.
So many native Android and iOS applications will focus on geolocation. HTML5 web applications have also been created around APIs such as Google Maps. And these mini map pin icons are the perfect companion for any style of mobile webapp.
DeviantArt is a great community full of very talented artists. This particular freebie download includes a mobile app screen featuring loader bars.
When making an advanced webapp you may need to handle avatar uploads or similar content posted by users. This window UI should provide an excellent starting point.
The process of sketching out your mobile webapp can be difficult. It is often more tempting to jump right into coding and detail the layout afterwards. But taking the time out for planning your results can be a huge help.
This small collection of mobile stencils and wireframes should help you out with this task. I have included wireframing templates for both Android and iOS devices.
Almost every iOS designer/developer must know about Michael Flarup’s iOS Icon template over at Pixel Resort. Recently he purchased a top-level domain for AppIconTemplate.com where you can download this free PSD.
I must 100% recommend grabbing this freebie if you plan to support your mobile webapp to be saved onto the iPhone homescreen.
I like to think of the AppView theme as more of a template for minimalist designers. This PSD set will include all of the typical interface elements you expect to find in iOS applications.
It makes the perfect starting ground for adding your own content and setting up basic page templates for your webapp.
These Android stencils are another tool for building your core wireframe. Keep in mind that your mobile webapp does not need to mimic either of the mobile operating systems. But it does help using the default elements as a starting point for your projects.
This freebie iPhone app PSD template is courtesy of CreativeVIP.
Their library includes many helpful mobile graphics but this particular iPhone interface offers a tabbar and icon sets. Plus a homescreen and content page design for your own customizations.
What mobile webapp would be complete without a series of related interface icons? Think about all the places you will find these glyphs and symbols. The top navigation toolbar and bottom tab bar areas will frequently use icons to represent button actions.
Plus you may embed icon sets into your page content for a more visual approach on mobile screens. Most of these collections will include a retina version along with the standard icon sizes.
Just recently Speckyboy published a collection of free retina glyph icons for mobile designers. These icons may be used anywhere in your layout and can also be placed @2x for high DPI screens.
MFGLabs has a good track record of releasing freebies into the design community. The landing page really stands out as you can see how these icons may be placed into a typical layout style. Grab a free download of the pack and toy around in your own time.
These well-designed icons are also useful in typical mobile content areas. Not all mobile webapps will need loads of icons aside from interface features. But the collections are all free of use and free to download.
Most of the collections we have seen pertain towards Apple-inspired iOS icons. However the Android GUI pack also have a lot of native icons you can find. And this freebie set is perfect for mobile developers who are looking to mimic the Android interface feeling.
Clean Icons from IconDeposit are a bit too small for use in tabbar elements. But they are just the right size and shape for interface features and toolbar buttons. The graphics are colored white to gray but you can update the colors & effects in Photoshop.
The IconBeast freebie pack is also full of beautiful glyphs for iPhone tabbars. The grey-colored pack includes over 300 icons which are sized out for retina devices.
This mini device storage pack really stuck out to me and I wanted to include the set here in our mobile resources. These are monocolored icons which fit nicer into your content, in paragraphs, or in menu buttons.
The rectangle icons are another solution for bare content aesthetics. These can easily be updated in size and color, plus they will fit nicely into any mobile layout.
Finally we have some more native Android-based mobile UI icons. This freebie is an excellent addition to the set which is mostly controlled by iOS styles.
Admittedly there are not as many online tools and webapps used for building mobile sites. However the tools which are online can provide lots of help in expediting the development process.
Web tools can make your job easier by providing HTML5/CSS3 code templates, icon generators, smartphone demos, and lots of other goodies too.
MakeAppIcon is possibly the greatest tool online for mobile developers. If you do not have the time for resizing and creating the different icons, this webapp will handle the job for you. It is completely free to use and will work with all the common icon formats.
If the icon sets listed above are not enough you can always check out the Icons DB. Their database is packed with new open source GPL icons for use in your own applications. Just do a search on the website or click any of the related tags in the sidebar.
Mobile HTML5 isn’t as much of a webapp as an online resource. Their page is coded with a graph displaying all the differences in rendering mobile HTML in browsers. This takes into account many of the different iOS apps, along with Android-based web browsers.
Treehouse is a new online learning library which helps developers to pick up new skills. Their video library includes CSS3, HTML5, jQuery, and even Objective-C programming.
This page in particular handles HTML5 development for mobile web applications. Check out some of the features to see if you would be interested in studying any of the topics at hand.
Mockup Designer is a tool hosted at Github which is free for everybody. They provide very basic interface elements for structuring your own layout. Extremely helpful if you are just getting started building layouts for mobile webapps.
If you do not have a bare-bones HTML5 template then I recommend checking out Initializr. It is a free web tool which will bundle and package HTML5/CSS3 codes as a template for your projects. This will save you time during development and dramatically cuts down your coding requirements.
Open Source Code
The final piece to building a mobile webapp is the code. All frontend developers have at least heard about responsive web design. I want to point out this is not always the way to go when building mobile webapps.
However many of these plugins and code frameworks allow for mobile responsive web design, which is great when supporting desktop browsers too. You will also find code snippets which mirror the native effects of Android and iOS smartphones.
You know how you can flick left/right on the iPhone home screen to switch between icons? This exact effect has been duplicated for the web as a jQuery plugin. iOS ScrollPane is a free resource for your webapp to duplicate the same home screen effect.
When comparing mobile responsive slideshow plugins I will have to recommend PhotoSwipe. Their documentation is very simple and the support is phenomenal. Both smartphones and tablet PCs will benefit from this jQuery plugin.
Another awesome package on Github is this iOS-style jQuery Mobile theme. Most frontend web developers know about jQuery Mobile which offers a dynamic HTML5/CSS3 mobile interface.
If you enjoy their library then you’ll definitely want to try out this theme which replicates iOS native applications.
slideToucher is a jQuery plugin for adding swipe-to-slide panels into your mobile app. These will not work the same in your desktop browser with the mouse navigation. So although this plugin can be great for mobile users, it is not ideal for responsive websites.
Out of all the jQuery plugins here I think the Custom Content Scroller is my favorite. This will mimic the iOS style of sliding content which may be applied onto any div or section on the page. You can swipe to scroll or click & drag on the semi-transparent OSX-style toolbar.
Junior is a much more polished and refined HTML5 framework for building mobile webapps. Their website has a lot of demos and the documentation is very easy to read.
It may require a bit of initial upfront work to nail down the basics, but it is a step forward in supporting mobile HTML5 webapps.
We all know about the native ON/OFF switches found within iOS. This jQuery plugin will allow you to style any input form checkbox element to behave like a slider. The codes are free to download and very easy to get going on any website.
The Luckyshot template is a free open source HTML5/CSS3 project for building layouts similar to iPhone and iPad applications.
This exhaustive collection of mobile codes and GUI kits should provide a library for new developers. As trends advance we will likely see a whole new onslaught of tools and resources being published online.
I am hoping this guide will offer a bold starting point to getting your webapp idea launched on the right foot. But if you have any questions or additional resources we may have missed, feel free to share your thoughts in the post discussion area.