How to Design a Great iPhone App Icon

Quite a bit of time and deliberation goes into creating iPhone apps and descriptions, but how much time do you put into your icon?

Once loaded on a user's phone, however, the icon single-handedly represents your app on a user's phone. Here are a few important tips for designing an eye-catching iPhone app icon.

  • Keep it simple. With any icon or graphic, the simpler the better. Your icon should be clean, clutter-free, and as simple as possible. It might help to step away from your app for a while, close your eyes, and picture your app objectively. What is the one thing that stands out? What color appears most often in your app? That color will eventually become a color your users associate with your app, so it would stand to reason that your icon would incorporate those same colors.
  • Make it match. Your app design should match your icon design and vice versa. When someone opens your app, a fluid experience of colors and images should blend. When done properly, the app user won't even notice the consistency. It will simply lend itself to an overall consistent experience that makes the user feel comfortable.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Most apps are easily identifiable by one standout image or letter. Find an image that represents your app and use it both in the app and on the description, keeping in mind that your icon will always be displayed in a small format. iPhone owners will quickly learn to find your icon on their phone's small screen, often identifying it by a color. Text is not only disregarded, it can make the small image appear cluttered, making it less eye-catching overall.
  • Make your app stand out. A great exercise as you're developing your app icon is to look through the iTunes store and note the many icon designs. Which ones stand out? What elements of those icons make you want to read more? Jot down any observations and keep them in mind as you're making decisions about your own icon. The key is to stand out in a crowd of many for being well-designed and getting the message across.
  • Use special effects. Gradients can give your icon's image the detail that makes it stand out in a sea of app icons. Those details should be used go vie your app depth, with highlights and reflections artfully used to give your icon that professional look your customers will respect.
  • Skip the gloss. Apple automatically puts a glossy sheen on each icon. This is a default setting, but it can make your icon blend with all the other icons out there. It also mutes the colors in your icon, taking away from all your hard work. To turn off the auto-gloss feature, turn that option off before submitting your icon.

With the many iPhone apps available, it's important to stand out while remaining true to your original message. If you're ready to begin designing, PixelResort has a great template that can help you get started.