The app icon has become a massively important part of a designer’s career these days. With more and more companies out there trying to tap into the digital market, the app icon is a key feature in their arsenal to increase clients and drive traffic to a particular app. In this article we are going to take the traditional approach and give you some awesome tips on how to make your icon really standout.

Visual content is king

With anything you are designing – if you don’t have good visuals, then you might as well give up. Visual content should be one of your primary focus points, from brainstorming ideas to working on the app icon in question. Writing in Apptweak, Laurie Galazzo says about visual content and its importance:

“People tend to feel overwhelmed by the humongous amount of various information and content present everywhere. Their attention is therefore very difficult to catch. In consequence, humans give way more importance to visual content rather than written content. Why? Because the message is faster delivered to the brain, it’s pure biology. In fact, we are becoming more and more lazy: we don’t want to think too much. We want things to be simple. Short. Straight to the point.”

Apple App icons

The importance of simplicity

Following on from what Laurie Galazzo has said – simplicity is particularly important, especially when it comes to text. Sure, some well known apps, and even a few lesser known, don’t even bother using text, a simple letter, number or image is sufficient, but if you’re working on an app icon for a new company, then it’s only common sense to use the name of it within the icon.

Think about your branding, it’s important to figure out what font is going to give you optimum impact and fit with your brand’s general aesthetic. Using something childlike if you’re a serious company is just going to put potential app users off.

Bright and beautiful

Create an icon that is colour rich, there’s thousands-upon-thousands of apps out there, all jostling for attention, so pick your colour scheme wisely. Make it crisp and blend together beautifully. Oh! And choosing zany colours for the sake of attention is going to look really contrived and counteracts what we were previously talking about – the importance of simplicity.

Think uniquely

Yes, it sounds like one of those irritating buzz phrases used by office types like David Brent, but it’s really important that, during your brainstorming, you attempt to fashion something that is unique to your brand, something that gives that captures the emotions of your potential users.

If you’re struggling to understand what we mean, have a read of a previous post where we discussed Instagram’s change in direction for its own famous app icon. Here you will see what we mean about thinking uniquely:

“The design team actually went through quite a rigorous and novel process for designing the new icon. Arguing that the app had evolved beyond a simple photo sharing app towards a diverse multimedia community, he recounts the team’s efforts to reflect this change in character visually through a new interface and app icon.”

In conclusion, an app icon has to be something that’s driven by quality, user appeal and, the simple rule, if you wouldn’t use it, why would anyone else!

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Adam Parrish
Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…

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