You must have heard it’s not fair to judge a book from its cover/design. But this is what we always do. We pick up the book which has an interesting and appealing cover, and if we don’t find it attractive we leave it and pick another. There are so many choices available and we tend to choose the one that is interesting enough to grasp our attention.

For an app icon too, the story goes quite similar. First impressions really do count. And your app icon is the first thing that your prospective users get to notice. The app store is a crowded place and to stand out can be challenging.

You may not realize but the icon of an app plays a colossal role in the success of the app. Sometimes your app has everything that a user wants, but an unappealing icon can ruin its fate. Therefore, as a graphic designer I would suggest you to pay attention to the overall appearance of the icon so that it instantly grasp the attention of the user and eventually leads to more downloads.

Transforming the iconic features of an object that is metaphorically consequential and decipherable is no easy task-especially if the design needs to be as efficient a 48×48 pixel as it is at 256×256. A memorable icon is beautiful, functional, iconic and self-explanatory. An effective icon  depicts the complete concept of the app efficiently. It plays a vital role in app marketing and attracting user attention to the app. So, it makes worthwhile spending time on icon design to get it right!

Having said this, here I am jotting down some important tips to design the best icon of the app.

In the points below – We will try using a Chopper/ Helicopter War game ICON as an example.

First step is to write down the core points of your game from high importance to low importance. In this case we have:

1) Helicopter
2) War
3) Military
4) Fighting

Keeping the above in mind, our ICON should focus on these very points.

Using visual metaphors – Icon design is a no brainer, but if you visit the app store there are a few icons that do immensely well.

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But if you take out the text from the icons, how many icons really do depict the concept of tongue twisters. It’s only the option A image that does the justice to tongue twister.

Conceptualize your icon– A great way to add depth to your icon is to provide it with conceptual depth. Your icon should be such that in the first glance the user gets the complete concept of the app or the game. For example. In an endless runner game where you are running from lets say a yeti, a perfect ICON would be something like this:

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After having a look at this icon, the user can easily get an idea that the game is about running and a chase.

Anyhow coming back to our Chopper Icon…

Do not use words – Avoid texts in your icons. Your icon needs to be graphic. It’s a design thing! A representative image of your app or game is better than too much information in the same place. Due to varying resolutions and app icon sizes, the text featured within an icon is often hampered. So, I’ll recommend you not to use words or typography at all.

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High-quality– When you upload an icon, there are many stores that offer you an option of high-quality resolution. Just take it! The quality of the icon is pretty important when you will be in a list where there are many competitive apps like you. Moreover, a high-quality icon gives users an impression that if the icon is high-quality, the app will be as well.


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Less is more: Icons are shown in smaller resolution to people. Less elements are always the best, as more elements in an ICON make it look cluttered and unprofessional.


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Bright and vibrant– In a crowded app store, when users are scrolling your apps, you would like to see your icon shine bright among others and convince users that your app and icon are high quality. Try to be unique from others by creating a beautiful, vibrant and creative icon!


Use the same color palette as the app– You need to be cautious of the colors that you choose when designing an icon of a particular app. There has to be some kind of connection between the app and its icon. This ensures continuity and make your app recognizable.


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ACTION ACTION ACTION!!- A simple image in the icon will not tell a story. An icon needs to tell the story of a game with limited artwork. For example, if the ICON is for a bike racing game, needs to have the bike,, the background blurry to show the speed of the bike moving… etc etc to show action.



Test the icon design first on your device– Create several test icons and place them in the appropriate size image for display on your phone. This way you’ll be able to see all the test icons placed next to each other giving you the best comparison possible. Open the image and see how the icon will ultimately look on your phone.


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Get it right the first time – Changing your icon design again and again ten comes with update costs. Also, you should consider the fact that the users accustomed to your icon may have a hard time finding your app.




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So keeping in mind the above points we created the icon for our game. Lets go over the checklist.

1) Core Keyword: Helicopter tick
2)Core Keyword:  War tick
3) Core Keyword: Military tick
4)Core Keyword: Fighting tick
5) Not using words tick
6) Less is more tick
7) Bright and Vibrant tick
8) Using same color palette as app tick
9) ACTION in the ICON? tick
10) ICON tested in various resolutions tick

So there you have it… This is how your create a kick ass app icon. Overall you need to remember that your app icon is simple and looks great in all resolutions. You should make sure that you can scale up and scale down your icon without hampering its quality. If you want your app to stand out in the app store, you need an appealing and attractive icon. And I am sure by using the above given tips, you’ll be able to create a beautiful and alluring app icon.

Raj Arora
Author : Raj Arora

Founder and CEO Of Reskingames and GameGorillaz.com. Love to write about my experiences in the app industry, and have fun working!