4 Tips for Creating an App Icon That Stands Out

Chirag Leuva
by Chirag Leuva 20 Aug, 2015

Although it's said we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, that's exactly what we do - glancing over unattractive or otherwise unappealing covers, opting for more engaging options. The same could be said for app icons (the thumbnail images that are displayed in app stores).

Here are four tips for creating an icon that stands out (and helps get your app downloaded):

1. Give a hint

Every mobile app offers a service or solves a problem. The icon must offer a hint of what the app is all about. It should make a visual communication of the app's content or purpose within milliseconds.

- Color and graphics combined together in the app icon should align to the quintessential app purpose or business message. 

- While presenting the app message through the app icon make sure it takes the target audience into consideration. For instance, a fitness app cannot look too somber as it won't appeal to the potential downloader's desire to get fit. Conversely, it should be motivating and energetic. 

- Think of how your app's message could be communicated to a child. Would a 5-year-old know what problem your app solves?

2. Select the right color 

We all react differently to different hues. Further, different age groups, interest groups, genders and ethnicities have their own color orientation and preference. To address this hugely variable lot of preferences you need to research a bit on the color preferences of your target audience. General color guidelines are as follows: 

- Red: Red, as the most vibrant color, is commonly associated with energy, lust, desire, love, passion, strength, aggressiveness and power. By mellowing down or softening the red tone you can reduce aggression while still retaining the passionate side. 

- Orange: Orange perfectly carries the passion of red and happiness and warmth of yellow. For creating a passionate warm feeling orange is used. 

- Yellow: Yellow refers to the golden hues of sunshine and is naturally used to denote brightness, joy, happiness, radiance and energy.

- Green: It is the color of nature around us and naturally like nature it denotes freshness, fertility, life, growth and harmony.

- Blue: Blue is the color of big spaces like the sky, sea and void beyond. Naturally, it offers a feeling of depth, openness, acceptance, expanse, wisdom, faith and truth.

- Purple: Purple incorporates the stable and peaceful element of blue and the passion of red. Purple refers to high-mindedness, royalty, nobility and luxury.

- White: White denotes the supreme light and associated with brightness, goodness, innocence, calmness tranquility, cleanliness and purity. 

- Black: Black is the color denoted traditionally to void and is associated with mystery, power, elegance, formality and death. 

3. Simplify it

When searching for apps, users often spend a lot of time just scrolling down the list of apps - consuming small snippets of information: an app's name, icon and two lines of text. Regardless of whether the app is download-worthy or not, users generally fall prey to apps that grab their attention. By grabbing their attention, however, the app's maker has now pushed the user to read the app description in detail and to look at the screenshots within. Simple app icons tend to grab the most attention when done thoughtfully, so avoid visual clutter, limit the number of objects within the app icon and don't follow design trends, as that will make your app icon too similar to the others in the list. 

4. Test the icon on different platforms and devices 

The app icon should have a layout that perfectly fits across platforms. For instance, for iOS the corners of the icon box will be rounded, and so you need to design the icon with enough padding. 

Author Bio: Chirag Leuva is the CEO of Yudiz Solutions, an iPhone game development company; where he works to bring client ideas to reality. He enjoys pushing the limits of user interaction and finding ways to create awesome reusable components within a mobile environment.