Accordion UI design

The exploration for Accordion component UI design, states, templates and use cases for desktop & mobile viewports.
September 2021 · 6 mins read

by Roman Kamushken


Heya! Roman's here.

I am a UI designer, maker, and seller. It's been already 3+ years passed since I started to make templates for Figma and founded Setproduct to help startups and individuals save on design and release their apps faster.
Working for 20+ years in graphic design, last years I've been browsing thousands of apps, screens, components, and layouts almost DAILY to gather the most complete ebook of how to design components, templates, and entire apps.

Fortunately, I've started with the 1st chapter related to the State of Avatar. Glad I was listed on some popular design resources and got a bunch of retweets and mentions. Which makes me decide to continue my explorations, so meet the research aimed to explain on how to design Accordions.

What is Accordion?

Accordion (aka Expansion panel) — vertically stacked list of options that can expand/collapse to reveal or hide more associated content.
Accordion UI design tips

Table of contents

Accordion Anatomy
  • States
  • Chevrons
  • Additional icons
Styles & Themes
  • Expanded item
  • Contained Accordion
  • Separated Accordion
UX & Usability
  • Using subtitles
  • Using badges
  • Helper text
  • Mobile & desktop patterns
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Default states for Accordion are:

  • collapsed
  • expanded
  • onhovered
  • focused
  • disabled
Accordion UI design tips
Chevrons placement
Chevron icon represents the opportunity to expand/collapse Accordion item. Once Accordion was clicked, the chevron rotates to indicate the successful expansion. Further collapse returns the chevron to a previous position.
Accordion UI design tips
Instead of a chevron, you may use the following symbols:

  • Up / down caret
  • Plus / Minus
  • Up / down arrow
Accordion UI design tips
Additional icon
In the case of right-sided Accordion, you may place additional icons to strengthen the meaning. Use wisely not to overload the component.
Accordion UI design tips
In some cases, you may apply colors to visually separate the items:
Accordion UI design tips

Styles & Themes

Expanded item
Highlight expanded state to let a user recognize what is opened in case of multiple Accordions. There are several possible styles for the highlighting:

  • Elevation shadow
  • Background fill
  • Outline stroke
Accordion UI design tips
While the elevation works well on both smooth grey and white surfaces, you may fill the Accordion expanded item's background with 8–12% opacity fill. Fits good for white surfaces. Add outline stroke, if necessary.
Accordion UI design tips
Contained Accordion
Use contained Accordion for most of the cases. Separate its items by a slightly visible divider. This placement either saves some vertical space.
Accordion UI design tips
Separated Accordion
There are some cases when you can separate Accordions with whitespace. Use this method to divide when it's needless to save vertical space.
Accordion UI design tips

Accordion UX & Usability

Subtitle to pre-know
Enable a subtitle to inform your users about what to expect when Accordion expands. This either helps to display the user's pick when everything is collapsed.
Accordion UI design tips
Badge to pre-know
Either use a badge to indicate the selection hastily, while Accordion is collapsed.
Accordion UI design tips
Helper text
Enable a helper text for Accordion to ergonomically show up a user's pick when collapsed, especially for mobile viewports.
Accordion UI design tips

Mobile patterns

Full-width usage
On mobile devices use only full-width Accordions.
Accordion UI design tips
Side menu
Implement Accordions into the navigation drawer to reveal submenu items.
Accordion UI design tips
Use side panels with Accordions to utilize multiple filters, properties, etc.
Accordion UI design tips

Desktop patterns

Side menu
Analogous as mobiles, you may implement Accordion-driven side navigation for desktop apps, dashboards, etc.
Accordion UI design tips
Depending on the desktop layout structure, Accordions (e.g. as Filters) could be placed as both left or right-sided.
Accordion UI design tips
This is all you need to know to design better Accordions.

If you looking for those Accordion cards - Duplicate for Figma

Hope this exploration will help you to improve your in-app UX. The next chapter is for the App Bars, probably. Stay tuned!

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