5 App Icon Design Mistakes Even Experts Make

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Your App icon design is really important as it conveys the right message across to users – a colorful, creative and unique icon attracts attention from potential users on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play, increasing your App’s chance to get picked and to become more popular across platforms.

When browsing the marketplace for a new App, the user initially sees very limited information to choose from. That’s why, even if they spot an App with an attractive name and competitive price, a poorly-designed icon can ruin their first impression and negatively make an impact on their choice.

What mistakes should you avoid that others often make? We’re about to take a look at exactly that.

1. Having Text In The Icons

One huge mistake that many developers often make is to add their App’s name (or some text) inside the icon. This is absolutely unnecessary, because App Store and Google Play already highlight names right next to each App icon. Instead of grabbing the opportunity to make a good first impression on potential users with a good design, they showcase the same information twice and make things complicated.

Take a few minutes to browse App marketplaces for yourself and you’ll see that it’s usually the poorly developed Apps that have text in their icons – ones that mobile users are not really likely to prefer. If you want to make your App look professional, avoid this very common mistake.

2. Not Making The Icons Retina-Ready

Apple’s latest generation of smartphones, tables and laptops have high-resolution retina displays with pixel-perfect imagery that’s either going to help your App stand apart from the crowd, or ruin the first impression you make on potential users due to blurry, non-optimized App icons.

In other words, if you don’t provide a high-resolution design of your App icon, you are probably losing out on potential users with the latest iOS and Macs. Are you really willing to give away your App’s market share on iOS, just because you haven’t optimized its icon for Apple’s retina displays?

So do take the time to create additional App icons sizes of 144 pixels for Retina iPhone and iPad displays, as well as 96 pixel-sized icons for iPad’s Spotlight.

Follow Apple’s App icon size guidelines for best results.

3. Not Focusing On The Details

Yet another common mistake that App developers often make when designing icons is not keeping their eyes on the details. This makes the end results look unpolished and repels potential users, motivating them to choose competitive Apps instead of theirs.

Pixel perfection is really important, and so is testing your App’s icon in different sizes. Sometimes, it’s not enough to create a large image and simply downsize it to fit all marketplace guidelines. Doing so, you might risk losing some of the details incorporated in the larger image or making them blurry.

If you want to keep your icon’s depth of details (which you most probably do), you should try taking different approaches when resizing the icon of your App. In some cases, downsizing the raster image may work well enough. In others, you might need to retouch the smaller sizes to amplify the details.

But if that doesn’t do the job for you, consider creating a small vector icon and then upsize it, adding further details and retouches as the icon becomes larger. Starting from the ground up is often the best and most scalable strategy to choose for App icon designers.

This is a great blog post that shows the various App icon sizes required.

4. Similar Design As Another

The question whether your App looks ‘ordinary’ may seem subjective – but some developers make a mistake to adopt a standard approach to icons, commonly used by competitive Apps.

When designing an App icon, never take a look at the what your competitor is offering. Start from scratch to stay creative. If you even take a look at some other design, it is likely that you are to adopt elements from that design into your own.

5. Wrong Color Combinations

The last mistake that you, as an App developer/designer, should avoid making, is creating mediocre icons that don’t appeal to the potential user base because of bad color choice.

First, choose a homogenous and eye-catching color scheme which represents your App properly in the eyes of potential users. Marketers have known for a long time that colors affect customers’ perception and even product purchases. For example, impulse buyers prefer red, orange and black. Shoppers on a limited budget, on the other hand, usually pick navy blue and teal (because they create the sensation of trust and security in the subconscious mind). Traditional customers, mainly women, like sky blue, pink and rose. Target the color scheme of your App’s icon according to your users’ habits and demographics.

Use the amazing tool called Kuler by Adobe to handpick some great color schemes – and then decide if they will be appropriate for your App by understanding more about brand color psychology.

Dribbble is always a great source of inspiration. Check it out.

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