If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your app icon is worth more than any other asset for your mobile or tablet app. Your app icon is the most evident element of your branding, both on the home screen of the users devices and in the app store where they make the decision to download.
Use impulsive mobile download behaviour to your advantage
Users typically make app purchase decisions based on icons – similar to how they often judge a book by its cover. With mobile download behaviour being very impulsive, it is extremely important to be able to stand out from the crowd and convey as much about your app as possible in an instant.
How compelling and clear your app icon is for a user will help with conversion to download and may also play into the decision-making process for a user to consider which app to open from the device home screen – therefore impacting both your downloads and usage. It’s for this reason that App Store Optimisation exercises tackle the quality and effectiveness of your app icon.
Examine the value of your app icon
The first step for evaluating your app icon is to look to your competitors. Go to the app store and search for other apps similar to yours. Take note of the colours, the design, the style, and the characters or icons that they are using and make a list of these to inspire your own design.
Keep it iconic
It’s best to keep your app iconic. Avoid being overly wordy. In fact, avoid words at all. Using objects, symbols, or letters is best to achieve a clear and easy to digest icon. Consumers should see your icon and be able to identify the imagery you are illustrating. But beyond recognition, they should get a sense as to what your app is all about or what type of app you are providing from your icon.
Keep it simple
Remember to keep your design simple. Clean, high quality icons will present your brand and product as a professional offering in the marketplace. As real estate in an icon is at a minimum, you want to avoid cluttering your icon that will only confuse or frustrate consumers.
Strive to stand out
Don’t be afraid to be different or bold, remember that you want to draw attention to your app amongst a sea of applications in the storefront. Use strong or bright colours. Choose imagery that conveys a mood, tone or emotion indicative to your app’s purpose.
Create and test out many versions
Give yourself choices by creating a couple of concepts for your icon before selecting the one that you will go forward with. Socialise your concepts with colleagues, business partners, family and friends and get their honest feedback. Getting an outside opinion is extremely important seeing that this icon is being created for your audience’s attention and not your own, so be sure not to skip this step.
Get your icon right the first time
Be open to any feedback you may receive regarding your app design – good or bad. Being overly committed to your app icon too early on could blind you to some much needed opportunities to make your app better. It’s never too late to make changes or start over. Since icons are what users will look for to identify their app on their home screen, icons are rarely changed, so you will want to make sure you get it right the first time.
Get outside design help if you need it
If you are not a designer and have the budget, seek professional help. Find a graphic designer who can help walk you through their process. A good graphic designer will meet with you to discover what your business is all about, who you are, what your app’s objectives are and what existing ideas or brand elements you may have already accomplished. Be sure to select a designer you trust. You will want to rely on them completely as your counsel in this field and in some instances you may not see eye-to-eye so someone you know is an expert in their field will be necessary.
Regardless of what you do when it comes to your optimising your app icon, make sure it is not an afterthought. It may be small, but this icon could make or break the success of your app in the marketplace.