Have you seen successful app without an icon?
That’s because the app’s icon is its packaging, and like retail products a good package is a great marketing tool. It draws attention and curiosity: at times people go closer (read ‘tap’) just to see what the package looks and feels like from up close (think “welcome to my app’s page!”).
As humans we love visuals. It’s a form of entertainment that excites our brain. When it comes to packaging, a great package does more than engage their attention and market the product. It also shows them that:
- What the app is about, and
- That the developers have left no detail unturned to bring something worthwhile
If you don’t put the needed effort into creating great icons, your app will simply get bogged down under the charts.
This post seeks to highlight tips that can help develops avoid just that. In this post I will discuss tips that will aid you design engaging and compelling designs for your app.
Tips that will make sure your icon is STELLAR and ACTIONABLE
Tip 1: Always Start by Stating Your App’s Purpose in one or two words
How will you describe your app in TWO (or at max THREE) words? It might be a hard task, but it will force you to visualize your app in the simplest and most rudimentary form: the idea and the experience with which you want your visitors to connect to.
Because your app’s title and description exist to describe the benefits people will gain by downloading it. Now imagine the visual components or objects and themes that can best describe what the experience is about. So keep it simple, and shred your app’s benefits and features down to one simple idea and experience.
Next, it’s time to add the details so that it catches their attention and is recognizable and differentiable at a glance and also from a distance.
Tip 2: Don’t Use Stock Images
Praises be to the Binary Lords of the App Underworld!!
Don’t, please don’t!
You’ll simply massacre the first impression.
People want to know that the developer has put in effort into creating the app. Think of the icon as your app’s packaging. Make it inspiring so people would want to tap it even for the sole sake of seeing what it looks like bigger.
If a photo has stricken your imagination, convert it into an illustrated icon.
Tip 3: Carefully Select Colors
A recent study on app icons found a breakdown of the most preferred icons in the top charts over 6 months, and found that blue (35%) an overwhelmingly common color, followed by green (14%) and red (13%). Furthermore, the study pointed out that the best icons had a combination of multiple colors (2-3).
Colors have a psychological effect and can focus our attention as well as induce an experience. It requires a careful balance between these two to make the colors stand out. For example, red is shocking however, one of the earliest studies on iPhone icons summed it up with “Bright red feels like its saying ‘error, don’t take this one’.”
Use contrasting colors. It creates a deeper color ambiance and hence makes it eye-catching, e.g. a darker background with a light foreground or vice-versa.
Tip 4: Avoid Text
Avoid adding text to the icons. Icons are supposed to be a form of symbols that communicate ideas, or introduce new ones. If you have to add text, keep it minimal. Great examples include Pinterest, Vine, Pocket, Ness, and Snapguide.
In Conclusion — Test Your App Icon
Test your app icon on multiple wallpapers. You have to work from the perspective of the user: not everyone will be using the wallpaper you used to test it, nor can you impose it.
This blog post is based in the advice given by successful app entrepreneurs in the App Entrepreneurs and Marketers Group. Stay tuned for more informative and insightful posts from us!