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How To Create The Perfect App Icon Design? | The Latest 2021 Guide

Social Media app icon blobs floatings

An app icon can have a tremendous impact on its downloads and interactions. So, it’s vital for any business or individual to try and perfect it. After all, nobody wants their app icon design to be the cause of low user engagement.

A good app icon style not only helps the user recognize the app on the device itself but also generates interest in the app store. The perfect app icon design conveys its purpose and benefits instantaneously.

So, are you wondering how to create the perfect app icon design? Check out our guide below for all the details.

What is an app icon?

Right off the bat, it’s important to note that app icons are not logos. Of course, logos can be used as your app icon. However, it depends on the brand. That’s because a logo doesn’t always present the best user experience.

App icons essentially have the same purpose as a logo – identification. The only difference is that a logo identifies a company across a vast series of mediums while an app icon solely identifies one product from a company on mobile devices.

Yes, they are extremely different. For example, company X can have multiple game applications. However, each game has a specific app icon design to help users identify it.

To simplify it further, logos can be scalable and be used in all of the company’s marketing activities like ads, flyers, etc. App icons, on the other hand, will always be limited to identifying a single app.

Related: The Journey Of A Brand’s Logo

What are the current app icon design standards?

Almost all apps are found on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Both companies have created guidelines for how they want your app to look. We recommend you follow these guidelines as it helps the app stay relevant with the current trends.

When it comes to downloads, it’s better to follow the majority and get a higher number of installations rather than stand out and be ignored.

Google’s latest design language, which is commonly referred to as Material Design, recommends creating a visual experience with the app icon style. They want the users to feel like they’re interacting with the app. And also for users to visualize the experience of using it through the app icon design.

What’s truly brilliant about the Material Design guidelines is that they provide extremely detailed recommendations for end-to-end app icon creation. From size to color treatment, you’ll find everything you need!

Similarly, Apple has recommended certain guidelines for its iOS ecosystem. Although Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines are not as detailed as Material Design, it basically recommends designers to create app icons that look less like pixels and more like visually appealing graphics.

Apple asks designers to create an app icon style with one single identifiable point that captures the user’s attention. Most importantly, they recommend keeping it simple.

What size and format should my icon be?

app icon design

The size and format of the app icon are extremely important to the overall user experience. App icons are usually tiny and don’t have a ton of flexibility. Other than the home screen, you can find them at an even more reduced size in the sub-menus.

Now, what if the designer doesn’t create a good-quality app icon? These various size fluctuations can really hurt the user experience. You don’t want legibility issues or strained eyes to be the reason for un-installations.

So, what are the recommended dimensions?

For Android devices, the app launcher icons are expected to have dimensions of 36×36, 48×48, 72×72, or 96×96 pixels depending on the device. However, guidelines recommend that the size should be 864×864 pixels as it will help to downscale.

Additionally, developers will save different-sized app icons for various screen densities. Then, they’ll store them in a density-specified directory within the application. This is beneficial as the app icon design looks consistent across various android devices.

iOS app icons, on the other hand, are recommended to have a size of 1024×1024 pixels. However, you don’t need to have multiple variations in a specific folder as Apple will take care of the resizing across various devices and sub-menus.

As for the format, both Android and Apple recommend saving the app icon as a PNG file.

Tips for designing the perfect app icon


Twitter logo app icon

Your app is going to have to stand out. It’s going to be constantly competing with millions of apps on each store it can be found on. Additionally, it needs to stand out even when it is downloaded and on a user’s home screen. If not, engagement will dwindle after the initial download since users will forget it’s even on their phones.

So, uniqueness becomes extremely important. We recommend you gravitate towards a design with purpose. Something that will evoke an emotional attachment.

The app store is the best place to start. Start by researching the most popular apps in your industry and analyze their design, elements, symbols, colors, and graphics.


Simple app logo design

Simplicity is key when it comes to recognizability. However, simplicity doesn’t have to be boring. By removing distracting elements, you can expect the app icon to pop more. This will result in instant recognition. If you’ve noticed, all the major brands only use a couple of elements or colors.

Keeping it simple also has its practical benefits. It helps the app icon design stay legible and consistent across various sizes.

Experts also recommend using symbols instead of words as it’s easier to understand. Cramming words into a tiny app icon can make it look busy, and worse, illegible.

All the best-performing apps use symbols. For example, Instagram is easily identifiable due to its camera app icon style. It also clearly tells its users what to expect after opening the app.


Red youtube logo on a black beackground on phone with a laptop in the background

When it comes to app icon style and overall app icon design, color is a necessity. Vibrant colors will always help the app stand out and can even contribute to an increase in user engagement. For example, Instagram’s spectrum of colors is always pleasing to the eyes.

You should also ensure that the app icon looks good on various backgrounds and stands out just the same. This is especially important, as there’s a variety of wallpapers out there that can mask your app’s existence.

When choosing a color, make sure it aligns with your business, industry, or niche. Most importantly, ensure it stands out from your competition.

Related: Color Psychology: How Colors Affect Mood & Behaviors In Marketing?

Final Thoughts

As mentioned earlier, app icons are extremely important to any business as it helps users identify and interact with the companies digital product or service. Since it has such a significant role in user engagement, the app icon style must be designed with care.

Fortunately, app icons don’t have to be permanent. If something isn’t working, you can always experiment. We suggest A/B testing your app icon to see which iterations lead to more interactions.

However, you should know that it takes 9 days for a new app design to be updated and 9 days for you to revert it to the old design.

So, it’s better to be sure before you make the decision. If you don’t have a focus group or a marketing team to make the call, tools like PickFu can test user reactions before you upload it.

However, the most important factor is always going to be the usefulness of the app. Even if the app icon design is brilliant, it will be deleted if it doesn’t do much for the user.

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