App Icon Design for iOS

July 22, 2015

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When a user is scrolling through a list of mobile apps, one of the first elements of an app listing users see is the app's icon. To optimize an app for Apple, an app icon that converts is key. App icon design comes down to aligning what the app does with what prospective users would expect to see in an app icon. Said another way, the icon should help communicate or reinforce what the app does, per the expectation of a viewer. In the app store sections or tabs "Featured Apps", on any of the free, paid and grossing lists and when exploring categories - users see only the app icon and a shortened app title. App Store IconsIf an app icon doesn't draw a user's interest immediately (under 3 seconds) - they will move on. Apple app store search results show more information including the app icon, the app name, the description, 2 screenshots and ratings - but the icon is still featured prominently. IMG_0195

App guidelines

There are all sorts of studies on colors, text on icons, gloss or no gloss and more.  We have found the very best way to know which app icon converts best with a target audience is to ask them. Ideally, app publishers could load 4-8 different app icons and measure which icon converted the most users. Apple does not currently support this type of testing (multivariate or A/B testing). Because the app icon plays such a significant role in conversion, optimizing the app icon design for conversion can we have a big impact on conversion rates and downloads. We run focus groups here at Gummicube to assess which app icon designs convert best.  We don't want to leave this up to chance or play any guessing games with an app element that is so important and impactful. Polling an email list is another option, but we have found no better way to select the very best creative elements like the app icon and screenshots than investing in focus groups.

App icon design tips

  • Leverage your brand if its  identifiable
  • Communicate basic features if possible
  • Consider the user experience by comparing how your app icon looks next to others in search results
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