App Icon Design – Best Practices for Corporations

Search for an app in Google Play or the App Store and you’ll see why a great icon is so important. Along with the app name, the icon is the most prominent element in the search results.

A poorly designed app icon could cause your app to look less appealing or credible, and discourage users from clicking through to your listing, or downloading your app.

Here is a screen shot of search results for “productivity” in iTunes:



Here is a screen shot of the same search on Google Play:



Having a fantastic icon is obviously important. Here are three pointers we give to any company having an icon designed for their app:

1. Keep the Design Simple

There’s a reason the best app icons are simple. These designs must look as good at 76 by 76 pixels (the app icon size for the iPhone 4s), as they do at 180 by 180 pixels (the icon size for the iPhone 6 Plus).

Hit delete if your icon looks like a jumbled mess on the user’s screen, or you can’t read the text, or you can’t decipher the image at a glance.

The following icons are great examples of simple app designs that work at a variety of sizes. From left to right you have: Skype, Evernote, Twitter, Hubspot and Dropbox.


2. Leave Out Your Company Logo

Your marketing department insists on using your company logo as the app icon – but there are truly few situations where this actually works or makes sense.  This is why…

1. You’re working with a tiny canvas (see #1 above). How great does your logo actually look when shrunk down to 76 by 76 pixels? Does it still comply with your brand guidelines? Can you read the words?

2. Unless your company actually IS your app, and your logo was designed to be an icon, or has an icon element (such as the Twitter bird or Instagram camera), your corporate logo probably has little to do with your app.


2. Use an Image to Tell a Story

Some of the best app icons out there don’t use words at all. The purpose and benefit of their app is conveyed through a clever, memorable image. Some good examples include:




If your company is having an app developed, be sure to invest in a quality app icon to go with it. If you’ve partnered with an app development agency they will have experienced designers as part of their team.

If you’re working with a freelance developer you will probably need to seek out a mobile app icon designer separately. Rarely will you find a skilled developer who is also a gifted visual artist.

In either case you’ll now be a little more prepared for the process. Stay inspired!

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Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the founder at Big Fish - an app design and development studio in Tampa, Florida. She was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business.
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