How To Design the Perfect App Icon in 2020

how to design an app icon


An attractive and well-designed app icon can greatly influence a user’s choice of downloading apps. An app icon is one of the key elements of a user’s first impression of an app. An app’s icon also represents your brand in app stores and on the users’ mobile phones. The design of your mobile app icon must be given a high priority along with the actual development of the app. In this article, we’re going to provide you with several tips and guidelines on how to design the perfect app icon.

Keep The Icon Simple

The best app icon is instantly recognizable and simple enough to convey its meaning to the users at a glance. Make the icon clean without overloading it with unnecessary details or embellishments. Integrating too much information, details and colors into a tiny icon is counterproductive for the design. A strong app icon contains a single graphic, which has a strong relationship with either the brand or the app’s theme.

Many app icons’ designers use the first letter of the brand in the app icon. Facebook and Pinterest are prime examples of this design motif. Don’t try to compress long words within a limited space as this makes it hard to read and loses its identity. You can choose alternative styles if you find this is overly similar to your competitors. Likewise, avoid using words along with pictures because it’s possible to overload an icon, making it too busy for users to identify easily. If you haven’t already, check out “Abstract: The Art of Design” on Netflix. In season 2, episode 5, Ian Spalter shows the intense process that went into updating the app icon for Instagram.

choose the right color scheme for your app icon

Choose a Suitable Color Scheme

An icon’s colors should be chosen very carefully. The more attractive the app icon is, the more downloads it will get. Make sure that the icon looks good on a budget device as well as on a high-end retina display. Also check whether it is clear and visible in low light mode, displayed against a plain black and white background, or against the different color backgrounds of the phone wallpapers. Use a color scheme similar to your business’s for optimal brand representation. Avoid using the color themes similar to your competitors.

You can choose one or a combination of colors that match the colors of the app’s interface. Consider popular apps such as Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, or Twitter; they all utilize bold and simple color schemes. Using a wide variety of colors makes the icon indistinct and ambiguous. That said, there are app icons with large color palettes, but they are working together in harmony. Try to stick with popular colors or primary colors like red, blue, and green. Use vibrant colors like pink, yellow, and purple if you want it to stand out from others a bit more.

App Icon Size Matters

Size is another important point to consider while designing an app icon. Create icons in such a way that it can make an impact across different platforms and screen sizes. Keep in mind the app store uses app icons of different sizes depending on whether your app is to be used on a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. App icons need to be smaller in the notification center of your device, a little larger on a phone’s home screen, and very large in app stores. There is no use creating a one-size-fits-all icon that doesn’t scale well across different sizes. App icons need to scale well across multiple displays. Test the icon design on multiple devices, contexts, and sizes to ensure the icons looks its best in each environment.

keep the icon design simple

Keep It Clean

A mobile application’s icon is effectively a small container that holds a bite-sized piece of visual information but must convey both the brand behind the app and its core functions. The icon design needs to be memorable and able to produce a sense of connection on both functional and emotional levels. Most importantly, while looking at the app icon, users should be able to understand its functions and capabilities at a glance. There’s a lot of pressure on designers to get the icon right.

As tempting as it is, it’s not a good move to try and express all the app’s features directly into the icon as this may hinder the end users. The best solutions include using a single object, preferably a unique shape or element with minimal details that are understandable and clear for the audience. Make sure that it retains its contours and qualities when scaled. Try out several variations of the design, line them up on a grid to glance over them and see which aspects of the designs catch your eye and iterate until it works. Many app icons go through hundreds of iterations before one is selected to use.

Integrate Platform-Specific Design Cues

Both Apple and Google maintain their own guidelines for app developers to create mobile app icons in terms of size, shape, resolution, and device compatibility. The Android guidelines differ from the iOS ones, so having a prerequisite knowledge about their terms and conditions is necessary before you start creating the icon. Go through Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines to learn official information about designing app icons for iOS platforms. Similarly, you can get a more in-depth overview of the Android Guidelines in Google’s style guide for icons.

We hope our guide has been helpful to you as you design your app’s icon. Of course, if you’re looking to work with proven professionals to create both a mobile application and its icon, get in touch with our account executives today. The team at Zco is ready to work with you on your mobile app project.