The First Impression: The Top Tips for Mobile App Icon Design

The First Impression: The Top Tips for Mobile App Icon Design

17 Mar 2019


Akash Shakya

Are you developing an app for the App Store or Play Store?

Developing an app is a great idea if we’re talking about modern ways to generate a passive income. Many people also go to the app store on a regular basis, so you don’t need to worry about having a shortage of possible customers.

The problem is getting people to take notice of your app.

You’re not the first person to ever think of developing apps to generate income. As a result, you’ll have a lot of competition to go up against. So, you need a killer app icon to increase your chances of success.

A lot of people don’t realize this but have a great icon design matters for your business. This is because this will be sort of the first impression you will have with possible customers.

Read what’s below to help you make a good impression.

1. Read the Store’s Guidelines

The first thing you must do before designing your icon is to read the guidelines of your chosen market. Failing to do so can cause the stores to recall your app for not following their standards. So, take time to read up on their rules to save you the hassle of redesigning your icon.

This will also help you with the other technical aspects of your design. For example, each platform has a specific size for the icons of the apps they put up for download. Knowing their guidelines first will help you determine the parameters of your app’s icon.

2. Know What Your Target Audience Will Respond to

Other than the guidelines, you should also familiarize yourself with your target audience. They are, after all, the ones you need to take notice of the app you’re developing. So, putting yourself in their shoes will help you sell your app to them.

A great way to do this is by using something that your audience will be familiar with. For example, if your target audience is readers of any age, then you should consider making a book the main focus of the design of your app store icon.

This will help increase the chances of them taking notice of your app. The relevance of the design will coerce them into checking out your app too.

3. Design Your Icon in the Standard App Icon Size

It is often a good idea to design your icon using the standard dimensions of mobile devices. This is because apps designed this way tend to also look good on different mobile devices.

Depending on the device, the icons will also scale in size to fit their screen resolutions. When this happens, design flaws often start to become more noticeable. For example, a design done on a tiny icon, when blown up to larger proportions, tend to look more pixelated than other icons.

This is also the case for icons designed in a larger size. They look saturated or blurry when they’re shrunk down to a smaller size.

4. Keep it Simple

Adding some details to your icon is often a good idea. It should only be small details though since people won’t likely notice it anyway. However, if you add too many details on your icon, it often ends up worse for your app and you.

This is because people will likely find it less recognizable compared to other icons. The key to being successful with your app’s design is to have others recognize it right away when they see it. This calls for a simpler design.

Try using only one object as your main focus for the app. This should represent something that’s relevant for your target audience, as it’s mentioned above that they respond well to objects they’re familiar with.

If you want to add more design to your icon, consider reducing some aspects instead. For example, you should consider shaping your icon’s background color to fit any design you want. This keeps the icon simple and also helps the store load your app’s icon faster.

5. Make a Unique Design You Can Call Your Own

There’s no better way to make your app recognizable than by coming up with an original design. This is more than making sure your app has its own look. By making a unique design, we mean coming up with an original symbol to represent your brand.

Chances are, your competition will be thinking of the same design as you. This makes it hard for your potential customers to know which is which without trying every single app out. This often leads to them sticking to the first app that appears on their search results.

Having a unique symbol will help you stand out among your competition. Customers will tend to gravitate towards the ones that break the mold. So, this will only do good for you and your app should you choose to spend some effort to come up with a design.

6. Dare to Explore Other Design Options

Speaking of breaking the mold, it’s also great to go against the traditional design of icons in the store. For example, if you see that other icons seem uniform in their design, you should dare go asymmetrical in yours. After all, an asymmetrical design choice is to be one of the biggest design trends this 2019.

This also doesn’t only apply to tradition-breaking. You should also try out other design choices that you often don’t pay any mind to. For example, 3D imagery and perspective illusions are designs you can use for your icon.

You never know if you find a design choice that fits the icon you have in mind. Yes, this is a big risk to take, but it’s often the risk takers that come home winning big.

7. Try Using a Smaller Color Palette

When it comes to designing an icon, it’s better to keep colors to a minimum. By this, we mean that you should limit the number of colors you put into your icon. Having too many colors can make your icon look distorted when it’s compressed.

So, you should only focus on using 2-3 colors for your icon. This simplifies it and keeps it clean when compressed. You should also try to match the colors to your target audience’s preferences.

It’s known that certain colors can affect how people feel. So, you should use this to your advantage to make customers inclined to download your app.

8. Don’t Fit Too Many Words into Your Icon

If you’re planning to put some words or letters into your icon, then keep it to only 2 to 5 words. This is because people often stay away from apps that have more than 5 words in its icon. The reason being that they don’t have time to read the tiny text in the icon.

Another reason why you should stay away from words is because of localization. If your app is going to be on the app store, you can expect it to go to international. So, keeping words or letters out of your app will help all nationalities know what your app does.

9. Incorporate Your App’s Main Feature into the Design

A great way to make sure people looking for your services download your app is by incorporating your services into your app’s signature design. By doing this, people will know what your app does and whether it will be useful for them.

An excellent example of this is Viber. With one look, you will know that it provides you with communication services. The simple yet efficient design has allowed it to gain more than 55 million downloads today.

Their design works because people love simplicity. They also love it when they don’t have to put too much thought on something. So, witty wordplay is not as effective as people may think it will be.

10. Check How it Looks on Different Backgrounds

Once you’re done with your basic design, you should check how your icon looks. You can do this by putting it up against different backgrounds to check how it works with them. You should aim to make it blend well with any background design or color.

So, you should aim for neutral colors to make this possible. This will make it prettier to put on display for your customers.

11. Never Use Photos as an Image Icon

One thing you should never do is use a photo as an icon for your app. This will always turn out looking bad and it may cause some copyright issues depending on where you got that photo.

It’s better to try and avoid them altogether by using custom images instead. You can use hand-draw illustrations if you desire to make the icon more unique and personal.

12. Use Shadows to Enhance Your Icon’s Appearance

A neat trick to add some depth to your icons is to add shadows to them. This brings out some angles and sharpness to ordinary looking icon images.

When a potential customer sees this, they’re sure to become impressed by your work. This may be what tips them to choosing your app over other apps in the store.

Make a Design That Will Leave an Impression on Everybody Today

Creating an app icon is more than choosing a random illustration. It’s the first chance you get to impress your customers and convince them to choose you. With the help of the tips we have above, you’re sure to get their attention with ease.

Need help with app development or web design? Contact us here and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as we can. With our help, you can put what’s in your mind out into the world.

What are you waiting for? Get designing now!

Akash Shakya

Coming from distributed computing background, Akash manages the Sydney operations. He is highly technical yet very business focused and is always driven to create successful business products for our clients.

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