An app icon is a concentrated visual representation of your application.
But how do you let people know exactly what your application is all about? How can you possibly use a minuscule format to clearly get your message across? How can you make it attractive and eye-catching?
It might seem intimidating, but getting your app icon design just right is crucial. It can mean the difference between someone using your app and ignoring it.
But don't worry. We've put together a list of nine tips to help you create an amazing app icon that's sure to stand out from the crowd.
Your app icon design needs to incorporate several sizes, ranging from 29 x 29 pixels up to 1024 x 1024 pixels.
Your users will see your app icon in many contexts, including the app stores for iOS and Android, the home screen of various devices, the settings panel, and more.
A complex icon that looks incredible at 1024 square pixels may become a cluttered, jumbled mess at 29 square pixels. Therefore, it's imperative that your app icon retains its clarity regardless of its size.
When creating your app, test it out in several different sizes to ensure it will scale appropriately.
Creating a simple icon is necessary for several reasons.
First, it will help with scalability. The less "stuff" you have in there, the better it will look in any size. Second, an overly complex icon can look messy and dated. If there's too much going on, your users may not understand what they're looking at.
Consider Apple's "phone" icon, which consists of a single white handset against a green background, and is a defining example of simplicity. It's sharp, clean and scalable.
To keep your icon simple, find one or two elements that truly capture the fiber of your app, and depict them in a clear, uncluttered way.
The app stores will typically display your icon against a white or light gray background. However, once someone downloads your app, it might look completely different on their device.
This is because most people personalize their home screen wallpaper with photos and designs. That means there's really no way to know what it will look like on your end user's home screen.
So to be safe, test your icon out on lots of different backgrounds, including solid light and dark colors, various popular designs like stripes and chevron, and color photographs.
Also, try it on a device that has a dynamic background. Try one that changes perspective as you move the device.
An easy way to make your app icon more noticeable is to use a bold, vibrant color. Not only will it stand out among your competitors' apps, it will also stand out against a variety of wallpaper backgrounds.
Blue is the most common color on the Internet. So, you should probably stay away from it in your design. If blue is an important color for your brand, consider pairing it with a bolder and less popular color to make your app icon stand out.
You should also consider only using two or three colors to make the design as clean as possible.
Don't make people guess at what your icon means. They should be able to look at it and immediately know what it represents.
Consider Amazon's latest icon, which depicts its logo above a shopping cart. Even if you're not familiar with Amazon, the image of the cart instantly informs you that it's a shopping app.
If people can't look at your icon and promptly know your product's purpose, they may just pass your app up altogether.
Your app icon is supposed to be a graphical depiction of your product. If you've followed the previous tip and made your icon instantly recognizable, there's no need to include words.
Within the restraints of a tiny square, any text will be extremely difficult to read. Also, the app's name will always be with the icon in the app stores and will appear under the icon on your end user's home screen.
So, including words in the actual icon is most likely not necessary.
This isn't to say you should never include words in your icon. But, before you do, think about whether there's another way to represent what the words are saying. If there is, use that instead.
It might be tempting to simplify the app icon design process by including a photo or screenshot, but that's not a great idea.
Photographs and screenshots typically include details that are incredibly difficult to decipher at small sizes. And, when it comes down to it, do they really depict what your app is all about? Do they communicate your app's purpose?
If you find a photo or screenshot that you think would work well for your icon, figure out what element stood out to you. Then, re-imagine that element as a bold, graphic design instead.
What's one way to make sure your app icon will stand out from the crowd? See what your competitors are doing! Then, do something different.
Restaurants tend to use icons with a fork and knife. Clothing boutiques typically depict articles of clothing. And so on.
Your icon will constantly compete with the icons of others in your field. So do your research, figure out what's been "done to death," and really challenge yourself to come up with something unique.
Consistency in all aspects of your brand, from visuals to content to messaging, is imperative. That extends to your app and its icon.
Not only should your app and icon have a consistent look and feel to the rest of your brand identity, but they should also be consistent with each other.
In other words, your icon should be a clear indication of the type of experience the user will have once they're using your app.
If the app icon design is cute, colorful and bubbly, but the app experience is smooth, elegant, and professional, there's going to be a major disconnect.
Ensure that your app matches back to your brand and that your app icon properly reflects that app.
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