6 Tips for Designing the Perfect App Icon

May 9, 2016

10:17 am

You’ve developed a new app and you want it to be the next big thing, of course. You know it’s good; you know people will love it. Now here’s where the real challenge begins – how do you get them to find it.

In the iTunes App Store alone, there are about 1.5 million apps. Submitting your app with a great description and perfect keywords are all well and good, but alone, they aren’t enough to set your app apart from the competition. To catch the attention of customers, you also want it to stand out visually. For an icon that helps bring in attention to your app, check out these six tips to create one.

Get Some Help

Some of us may have great expertise in our business niche and do a fine job with content marketing, but design? Not so much. If you don’t know someone personally to aid with visuals for your app, get on a site like Fiverr and describe what you need. Freelancer-for-hire sites offer access to a range of talent to tackle whatever job you need. And if you already have a dying app, changing out the icon can give it a boost.

Is Your Symbol or Shape Unique?

Check out the icons of your competitors – you need to know exactly what’s popular and what’s lacking. Icons of well-known apps are easily recognizable – this is also something you want for your app as well. To stand out (in a good way), try using a symbol that depicts the concept of your app.

Simple is Successful

If you try to cram more than one image or color into you app design, you will confuse the looker and, because it is so small, eyes and brains will have to work harder. If your app is a gaming one, however, this does not necessarily apply, but keep it as simple as possible anyway. Flat design icons are always a good choice, but using some simple shadowing can work too.

Save the Words for Your Description

Words are difficult to read in a small icon. Instead, opt for using a letter – perhaps, the first letter of your company name or brand. If you have a simple logo, you might consider using some variation of it, just to keep the brand recognition visually pure. It’s also understandable that Apple wants to see good icons.

Color Choices – It Matters

If you have a website theme with colors, then it is best to use those same colors for your app icon. Many prominent brands use the same colors across all of their web presences. If you are not connecting to a website, then choose vibrant, contrasting colors for background and icon graphic. A blue background is common because that seems to be the most popular color on the planet, so maybe yours should be different to stand out. Check out the competition and take care in selecting colors that will be unique.

A/B Testing – Worth a Try

This will require some planning ahead. If you get your app approved and publish it, and then you want to change your icon, you will have to go through the approval process again. So, before you submit the app for approval, design several potential icons and submit those with the original. Once you have those several approved, you can change them out as you wish.

App icons are a viewer’s first introduction (an impression). Yours need to stand out with visual appeal and a design that focuses on the concept in a simple way.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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