How to design a good app icon

Why get into mobile app development?
May 10, 2019
What is Empathy and why it’s needed in UX
May 15, 2019

An app icon is the first thing you see on the app store when you’re downloading it and subsequently, on your home screen when you download an application on your smartphone. It is the first impression your users have on the home screen and what they will use to find the said app.

Before going into how the icon looks, one should also consider how it will look like on both IOS and Android devices due to their operating systems being different. While the icons can look slightly different, they should not stray too far away from one another.

Now what makes a good app icon and how does it affect your users? A good icon is the branding of the app and gives the user a way to identify the app in both the app store and home screen. However, it is not a logo. A logo is a symbol that is used to present the business or organization while an icon is a concept of what the business or organization does through graphics. Both can be related, and a logo can be in an icon, but they are not similar. Let’s talk about the guidelines one should follow when designing an app icon.

 

Scalability

If you’ve looked at your apps on your home screen, you should realize that they are very small. The user can’t change the size of them or expand them to view the graphics in detail. That’s not the point of having the icon, instead, the user should be able to have a general idea of what the app has to offer. An example would be the calendar icon for IOS settings, the dates on the calendar are not visible but the user gets an idea that this is the calendar app.

 

Recognisability

As said in the previous point, the calendar app did not have much detail in it, yet the user was still able to pick out the recognizable characteristics and conclude that the main function is a calendar. Not only must there be identifiable characteristics but anything else that in unnecessary should be removed to prevent confusion. An app for notes doesn’t need actual writing on the notepad icon, the idea is already there and having writing would bring unnecessary clutter.

 

Eye-catching

There are about 2million applications in the App Store and Google play each so the icon should be able to stand out. Not only that but among the rough 20 icons that are in the home screen to grab the users attention and entice the user. Depending on the application’s category such as games or utilities, do your research on what are the typical graphics that the apps tend to take on.

 

Consistency

The app should follow the same design interface as the application. If the homepage in the application shows a more dominant color of purple and a very clean cut look, the icon should be able to present these design features. The user would be very thrown off if the icon was a cartoonish looking icon with red as a dominant color but upon launching the app, have a very modern and black interface.