Apr 24, 2020

How to create a unique app icon for stores

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Looking through the app stores, we don’t know what design and functions the applications have. The first thing we see is their icons. These are small pictures representing the application on Google Play or the App Store, and on the user’s device. This detail seems very small but plays an important role in attracting the attention of the user. If you are about to create your first mobile app icon design soon, we have some tips for you.

Stages of work on the application icon

Everything should work like a clock: from the correct statement of the problem to the built-in communication chain within your company. The work of creating an icon can be divided into main stages:

  1. Studying the audience.
  2. Analysis of topics, niches, and competitors.
  3. Mapping associations.
  4. Image development.
  5. The combination of different images, their interaction, and transformation.
  6. Sketches.
  7. Drawing in the editor of several final options.
  8. A/B testing of icons.
  9. Release in the stores.

You will need to go through approximately such steps during the creation of the icon of your application. Now let’s look at the basic rules and tips for designing a good icon.

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Know your audience and competitors

The designer’s work begins with a clear understanding of the audience the product is being developed for. The application icon for a local company, such as a food delivery service, will be different from the icon of a company that wants to enter the international market. Learn how competitors’ app icons look and identify their pros and cons. Such preparation will give you a clear direction for further work.

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Follow store requirements

Before creating an icon, carefully read the rules of application stores. At first, it might seem that you need only one small square picture with a side of 57 pixels, which users are used to seeing on their iPhone and iPad, but it’s much more complicated.

A whole set of source graphic files is needed, the maximum size of which can reach 2048 pixels. And each store has its own requirements, for example, on Google Play you need only 5 sizes, and on the App Store, you need 9. Detailed requirements can be found in Material Design for Android and Apple’s iOS Human Interface guidelines.

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Do not forget about brand design

When a user sees your icon, he must understand what the application is about and how it is associated with your product or brand. Use branded colors. It is best when the icon is universally readable, regardless of the language and culture of users. The effectiveness of the application icon depends on how accurate your idea is. YouTube is an excellent example. They took the easily recognizable Play button and made it not only their logo but also an icon.

Create app icons without extra text

Don’t try to fit the whole name of the company into a small icon. Small text is difficult to read, and its use will create problems in case of localization if, for example, the application is released in the Chinese market. In this case, you can use one or two first letters of the company name, as Facebook, Tumblr or Pinterest do.

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Don’t use all colors at the same time

By increasing the number of used colors, it will be difficult for you to stop. Avoid using all the colors of the rainbow in one icon. Usually, 2-3 primary colors that show your brand are enough. The icon should be read, and not become an incomprehensible color spot. Remember: less is better.

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Pay attention to contrast with the backgrounds

If the icon looks good on your test device with basic plain colors or on a light background of the app store, this doesn’t mean that it fits everything. Try to check how it could look at the other colors or multicolor wallpapers. Also, a dark theme is almost everywhere now, so go wisely with the choice of colors and readability of the icon on different backgrounds.

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The icon should show the main function of the app

A good icon immediately says the main thing about the application. The user doesn’t even have to look into the description to understand its purpose. For example, players usually use notes or instruments, for cameras — images of a camera or lens, and for messengers — a message cloud. Select the appropriate character that will show the main function.

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Don’t be afraid of change

According to the StoreMaven service, which analyzed the reaction of 500 million users to hundreds of leading apps, changing the icon on average can increase the conversion from viewing to downloading by 18% in the App Store and by 11% in Google Play. Therefore, if you already have an app, and the icon is out of date, it’s time to change it. And don’t forget, trends are changing, and over time, even the most actual design will become obsolete.

Key trends in app icon design

Design is an area in which trends change with high speed. You should not try to follow all the innovations at the same time, but you better know them. Here are some of the latest trends in creating app icons which can be noted.


Focus on the main thing and remove all unnecessary from the icon. It should not be overloaded with many elements. Remove any small details that don’t affect the meaning of your icon. The simpler the image, the better it will be recognized on any type of screen.

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Highlight details

Highlight one of the details of your icon or make the composition a little asymmetrical. This will add dynamics and attract the attention of users. Icons are remembered by a form that helps to recognize it even if the image is very small.

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Let’s remember the Instagram icon. They added a gradient to the logo a couple of years ago, thereby setting a trend that is still relevant. Also, use gradients to add volume to the image, but don’t overdo it.

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Try neon shades

This is one of this year’s trends, which also affected the icons. Bright neon colors can perfectly revive minimalistic logos. For example, Spotify designers have used this method. Neon green has become the basis for their logo.

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To sum up

The icon directly affects the success of the application, so its development should be taken with all responsibility. When creating it, don’t go beyond the requirements of stores to improve App Store Optimization. Also, use the experience of your competitors and study the latest trends to be on the wave of popularity. Be creative and don’t be afraid to experiment, so you can create a great design that will attract users.