We interact with dozens of icons every day. Those tiny pictures changed our lives. Each icon has its own impact and tells a different story. We feel so tempted to tap on some of them, while we don’t notice others unless needed. Of course, it’s not only about the icon but about the app’s purpose, but trust me, the icon has its impact too.
A big mistake that many app developers make is thinking the icon is a minor part of the project and not giving it any importance. An app’s icon can take the user’s attention and convince him to download the app between dozens of competitors. Even after installing, it can encourage the user to engage more.
For your app to achieve great results, you should have a great icon. In this post, I’m going to discuss 7 tips for designing the perfect icon for your app.
1. Follow the guidelines
An app icon won’t be alone on the screen. It will sit between other icons too. Follow the guidelines to make your icon look natural and nice to co-exist with other icons. Each operating system has its guidelines for app icons. These guidelines give you the general principals and recommended practices for your icon design.
For Android apps, refer to Google Play icon design specifications.
For iOS apps, see App Icon in the Human Interface Guidelines.
2. Analyze your competitors
Users should be able to know the purpose of the app from its icon. To meet their expectations, study the icons of the competing apps. What colors do they use? Do they share a common symbol? Usually, your icon should have the common symbols that show the main functionality of your app. However, you shouldn’t attempt to copy any icon or make it similar to an existing one. When analyzing the competitors’ icons find what’s missing and what can you add to make your icon stand out.
3. Make it unique
Having a recognizable icon will make it easy for users to find your app. It’s important to have a unique icon that users can recognize and easily memorize. You can make your icon unique by using custom shapes and symbols and trying different colors or gradients.
4. Keep it simple
The icon should be simple, yet clear. Remove any unnecessary symbols, shapes, shadows, and other effects. Limit the details to keep the icon recognizable. Adding many details will make it look bad, cluttered, and also it will be hard to recognize and memorize.
5. Don’t use words
Tiny text is hard to read and will add clutter to your icon. Also, words in your icons will cause problems in localization if you’re planning to support multiple languages. Still, you can use the first letter of the app name as many big apps do.
6. Consider scalability
The app icon appears on the store, home screen, settings, notifications, and other places too. Each of these placements has a different size. Also, different devices have different icon sizes, especially when comparing mobile phones to tablets. For this reason, design an icon that looks good in multiple sizes. It should be recognizable in small sizes.
7. Test it on various backgrounds
Every user has a different wallpaper. Expect your icon to appear on any of them. When designing the icon, try different backgrounds to make sure it looks good on any background. There are no rules here, just keep trying and editing until you’re satisfied. Make sure to test it on light and dark backgrounds too.