Building an amazing app is one thing, but getting people to use it is quite another! For that, you need to think of a good name for your app, a concise app description, and, of course, create an app icon.
And, if you want users to notice and download your app, then your app icon must be irresistible! Your app icon is the first impression people get of your app, so it has to stand out.
An app icon illustrates the app’s purpose and main functionality. But a great app icon design is based almost exclusively on how it looks. Without an eye catching icon, your app will not succeed.
Learn how to design your own app icon and optimize it with these eight tips and best practices.
Why App Icons are Important#
But before we talk about design, let us just clarify that an app icon is not a logo; an app icon represents an application, contrary to a logo that represents a brand.
Your app’s icon is one of its most important design elements for a successful app. It should match your brand color, message, and company objectives.
An app’s icon is often the first thing a user sees, so it’s essential to ensure it sends the right message. It can be a powerful marketing tool that helps users quickly identify your app and what it does.
Best Tips to Create App Icon#
How to create a well designed icon that will look great on any device?
- You need to study the requirements for creating your own app icon on different devices.
- Look at your phone and see how the icons appear on its screen.
- Produce a similar image on different devices while meeting all the operating systems’ rules.
- Follow our tips 😉
1. Keep It Simple#
Generally, people look for the fastest and easiest ways to achieve their goals. Ensure the icons you create are simple to understand; it will make your apps clear and easy to use.
When an app icon contains numerous features or details, it can appear cluttered. In other words, if your own app icon is too complicated, users may need clarification and help to understand what your app is about.
Keep in mind that apps are displayed relatively small on mobile devices. This means that using loads of text is not a good idea.
A complicated app icon may just confuse users and fail to communicate the essential message of your app.
Keep it simple – choose an app icon that is easily recognizable and doesn’t have too much going on. Consider using a simple shape instead of letters or a detailed image.
2. Keep Your Brand in Mind#
It would help if you made sure that your chosen colors align with your brand (as far as you can). Also, to attract your target audience, the icon’s color palette should match the app’s design.
Consider your brand and services, your unique value proposition, how your app is used, and its main benefits.
Creating an iconic app icon based on a letter that represents your brand might be possible if you already have a well-known brand like FaceBook.
Embrace creativity with your own app icon by stepping outside your comfort zone.
To identify your brand’s best icon, don’t be afraid to experiment. Rules are made to be broken; taking chances and the validation of testing is your way to achieve success.
We will discuss different ways of testing later on in this article.
3. Remember the Function and Purpose of Your App#
It is essential that the icon’s design is in line with the app’s functionality and utility. It’s a way to convey the right message and a visual call to action. The most effective thing you can do is create a chain of associations between items.
But make sure you don’t mislead your customers by creating a conflicting icon (please read the FAQ section).
Your own app icon should make the user feel like they have the utility in their hand or as close as possible to reality.
Let’s look at a notes app icon from Google play; it feels like you have the notebook in your hand, at least, I feel so. The app’s icon should awaken the desire in the user to use it.
Focus on creating an icon that reflects your app’s primary purpose and benefits. Think about your brand, what you’re offering users, and what makes your app unique. This will help you design an icon that accurately represents your app and its capabilities.
4. Color Selection#
You should always ensure that the colors of your app icon match your brand to create a high-quality app icon. If you want your icon to stand out in search engine results, you should think about the following ideas:
- Too many colors can be overwhelming and unappealing to users – the “keep it simple” rule applies again. One or two colors for your app icons are enough. And keep your background layer plain; remember that simpler icons usually convert better than complex ones. As you can see, the Photoshop icon stands out among the rest.
- Adding a border to your own app icon will make it stand out against any background and make it more visible and appealing to users.
- Bright colors will increase the effectiveness of your app icon. Use only a few colors; one or two primary colors should be sufficient. Simple app icons will help you convert users much more effectively.
- Look at your app’s objective (functionality, niche), and examine the colors used in your niche. For example, the icons for some of the most popular social networks contain blue elements. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Telegram, and others all use blue in their icons. If you’re designing a social network icon, it makes sense to use blue in your design. Some email apps use white and blue.
- As Picasso said – “good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Be one of the great ones. Use a color scheme that is deeply embedded in the mind of your target market. If your target market lives in the US, you probably can’t go wrong with the colors of the USA flag: red, blue, and white.
- Does your application’s functionality have an old established equivalent? For example, email can be connected to the post office. The colors used by the US post office are white and blue (also found in the flag), so there is no surprise that email apps use the same color scheme.
5. An Icon Should Work on a Light or Dark Background#
Remember that your app’s icons should look just as good in dark as in light modes. This means using contrasting colors for both modes. Typically, you’ll want your own app icon to look polished on both white and black backgrounds.
Another excellent tip for an Android app icon is to use a transparent background to adapt to the user’s preferred mode. But Apple doesn’t allow transparency in the app icon.
Google Play store allows you to upload several different icons for your Google Play Store presence to test which version looks best . You can upload those icons for the Google play in the Store listing experiments screen.
This way, your app looks excellent regardless of the user’s chosen background color!
6. Avoid Text and Photos#
Words are not visible enough to be read in an app icon; hence, adding words is pointless. Furthermore, the app stores’ guidelines do not recommend adding words, even if your brand logo is based on a word.
There are examples, such as Facebook, that use text. But Facebook is one of the very popular apps. You must remember their mobile app icon is based on more than just a complete word but only on the first letter.
While some tremendous photorealistic icons are available, using actual photos is generally frowned upon.
Regarding your app icon, it’s better to prioritize graphical images over photos and avoid screenshots or replicating UI components. It’s best to create graphics specifically for your own app icon so that it stands out and represents your app well.
7. Learn From Your Competition#
Keep an eye on your competitors’ app icon designs and try to understand their choices; why did they choose the design they did? By analyzing your competition, you can understand which areas are already covered and find new ideas to help make your icon stand out.
Additionally, it can be very beneficial to learn from the experiences of other companies to avoid making the same mistakes they did.
Your competitors can be a great source of inspiration – not just for new ideas but also for avoiding errors in your own app icon design. By studying the logos used by other apps in your niche, you can quickly understand what works well as an app icon and what doesn’t.
This way, you can learn from your opponents’ mistakes and create an icon that sets your app apart from the rest!
8. Make Your Icon Unforgettable#
Ensure that your app’s icon is as recognizable and unique as possible. This will ensure that users can identify it without seeing or hearing the app’s name to understand what it is. To make the icon stand out, the designer must create a distinctive element that will make the icon memorable.
The icon is what people will remember and identify with, not necessarily the app name.
App Icon Specifications and Platforms Guides#
Depending on the platform you are developing your app for, consider the features and requirements that are specific to that platform. For example, icons for iOS and Android differ in size, format, and allowed form. So don’t try to use the same icons for different operating systems.
Google and Apple have both created guidelines for how they want your app to look. Following these guidelines is a good idea because it will help your app fit in with the rest of the platforms’ apps and look more professional.
If you use AppMachine’s no coding app building platform, you don’t need to worry about these different sizes. you upload a 1024×1024 pixel icon and our app publishing proces makes sure the icon is added to your app in the required way.
App Icon Sizes and Guidelines#
Android mobile app icon
To build an experience that feels like you’re interacting with physical materials, Google has created a design language called Material Design. This is a comprehensive set of guidelines for making your interactions feel like you are interacting with physical objects.
Android’s recommended starting artboard size is 864×864 pixels, making changes later on easier. The actual final icon size should be 512x512px. You can find more information on Android developers.
iOS mobile app icon
If you plan on releasing your app on Apple App Store, Apple has presented guidelines for iOS called the Human Interface Guidelines. These guidelines are handy for iOS designers. However, they go into less detail than the Material Design guidelines.
Similar to Android, the icon will be automatically resized by the device and context, but Apple takes care of that for you. This way, you can focus on creating a beautiful and cohesive icon design that will look fabulous no matter where it’s seen.
Note: iOS app icons must be saved as PNG files and cannot contain transparency. More info on Apple Developer.
App Icon Testing#
Choosing an icon that will lead to success is a crucial part of your App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy.
While A/B testing can be time-consuming, it can give valuable insights into your app icon’s effectiveness.
Apart from your A/B testing, show your designs to your circle of friends and co-workers. Ask for their opinions, which of the designs stands out, which one is unique and which one they remember the most.
Create Icons and Remember to A/B Test Them
Before you start your testing, have a strategy:
- Clearly define what you intend to test about the design and why you are planning to do so
- Get granular; test each design element separately to determine its effectiveness.
- Test for at least seven days with the largest audience possible: You want to capture traffic during the week and the weekends and ensure every segment of your audience is being addressed.
- Do more than one test. You will be more confident in your findings if you test several designs.
- Test designs that are completely different from each other.
How to Create Attractive App Icons#
Use an App Icon Maker #
If you would like to practice all the tips presented in this article, there are a few online applications that can help you with icon app design.
- EasyAppIcon – Generate your iOS and Android app icons easily.
- Appicon.co – This app icon generator tool is simple to use. It allows you to quickly create app icons in various sizes for different platforms, such as iOS, macOS, and Android.
- Canva – Along with the many design options, canva can be used for icon creation.
Create your own App Icon#
Standard design programs used for app icon design are Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Sketch.
- Photoshop is best for creating raster effects (shadows, glares, reflections)
- Illustrator is better for complex vector shapes.
- Sketch is the best if you want built-in templates, as it comes with free app icon templates installed.
The fact is, a sound icon should be three things:
- Appropriate – logos should be relevant to the feeling you want it to evoke. Getting the point across doesn’t require much.
- Distinctive and memorable – we remember things that are distinctive and memorable.
- Simple – icons are displayed in various sizes and across multiple media and should always look good.
Be sure to capture your app’s purpose with your icon. And most importantly, make sure that it will get a user’s attention immediately. That way, you will have more downloads, and your app will succeed.
Lastly, creating your app icon is very important, but that does not mean you shouldn’t have fun with it! Try new ideas – who knows; you may just come across your perfect app icon!