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Tips and Tricks on Designing a Mobile App Icon that Stands Out

App icons serve as the visual representations of mobile apps. Just like a brand has a logo, an app has an icon. It is small in size but imparts a huge contribution to an app’s success. Creating first impression, increasing downloads, communicating an app’s function, and serving as the primary branding element, are some of the crucial tasks that an app icon can effectively accomplish.

That’s a lot of power that you can take full advantage of! Hence, we decided to curate a list of tips and tricks on designing mobile app icons that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Let’s get started…


Making your app icon easily recognizable is the most important thing to focus on. When you consider the most crucial factors that determine the success of an icon, you may think that it ought to be visually appealing, adheres to platform-specific guidelines, and simple yet leaves a mental blueprint. These are all valid points, but if the icon is not easily recognizable, you can bet that everything else will fail.

At Jhavtech, we believe that simplicity is the key in achieving recognizability – but it doesn’t mean bland to the extent of being boring. It still needs to go with the current design trends. Simplicity means focusing on a concept and discarding all unnecessary elements. As our motto says, “Every pixel matters.” It applies to mobile app icon design as well since every pixel must help users to understand the big idea – what the app is all about.

Another key is differentiation or the uniqueness of your app icon’s design. With 1.96 million applications available for download in the App Store and 2.87 million in the Google Play Store, you have 4.83 million app icons competing for attention. Popular brands can rely on their logo to attract eyeballs, but what can lesser-known mobile apps do?

Come up with something new and unique. Be creative and think outside the box. Remember that recognizability will help your app to stand-out from the crowd, and this is the first step to potentially throngs of downloads.


There is no flexibility when it comes to icon size. They come in smaller and smaller, and they cannot be stretched or compressed. This means legibility is top priority for mobile app icons. They must look great in the App Store, Play Store, on AMOLED, and on Retina displays.

Aside from the home page, they also show up in sub-menus where they become even smaller in size. You certainly don’t want your users to strain their eyes just to be able to understand the concept of the design.

A huge part of the conceptual phase of app icon design must be dedicated to determining whether a particular design will scale seamlessly. This can be achieved by testing on different types of devices, and while loss of details is unavoidable, the main idea of the design must always be clear.

Put a premium on simplicity and concentrate on one element, preferably a unique object or a shape that retains its qualities when scaled. Also, see to it that the icon looks good against different backgrounds.


An icon is part and parcel of a mobile application, so branding must stay consistent between the two. Good icon design is an indication of the quality of the app itself. The icon must provide an accurate description of the app and highlight its main features. The two should support each other to create a positive user experience.

Shaping a sleek image of your mobile app in the minds of users increases chances of virality and boosts product satisfaction. The bottom line is that getting your icon to work with the design and functionality of your mobile app is a huge feat, and will most likely translate to success.

You can ensure consistency between your app and its icon by aligning their color palettes and using a unified design language  –  for instance, a blue interface complemented by a blue app icon. As much as possible, try to make the symbols of your app and its icon visually similar in order to reinforce the connection between the two.

Refrain from Using Words

Keep in mind that it is only in the rarest of circumstances when it is okay to include words in the design of an app icon. The icon looks small on a mobile screen; so users may need to use a magnifying glass just to be able to read what’s written on your icon. Hence, it’s advisable not to use words in order to avoid confusion.

Moreover, words and images are distinct representational tools, and combining them in what is meant as a graphical representation typically results in an experience that’s cluttered and disconcerting. Designing an impactful mobile app icon and giving your app an appropriate name is enough to captivate more users.

Know the Latest Design Standards

Aside from the submission size, there’s no other definitive rules to follow, but both Apple and Google have set forth guidelines on how they like your app to look. Better adhere to such guidelines because mobile app icons that follow them seem relevant and abreast to current trends. Consequently, these apps generally enjoy more downloads. Android guidelines are here. iOS guidelines are here.

Final Words

An app icon is a crucial part of mobile app development because it serves as the first touchpoint with your users. A unique and meticulously designed app icon can influence prospective users to download your app.

If you have an amazing app idea, make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle because of a bad app icon design. Follow our tips to set yourself up with design that looks awesome and reaches your target audience.

We hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions or if you are interested in the services we offer, feel free to get in touch with our team. Contact us today or request a no obligation quote

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