Wondering what the effect of a well-designed app icon will have on your app sales? You may be surprised to know that it’s actually hugely important. Read on to find out more:
First Impressions Matter
Sure, it may not be the wisest idea to judge a book by its cover, but that’s what most users are doing when they purchase applications from iTunes Marketplace. Because really, that 57 by 57 pixel area is all you get to convincingly sell your app besides a short description (and an extra compelling, action-packed screenshot). Ever wonder why certain, seemingly obscure games just seem to explode into popularity out of nowhere? It’s likely partly because of an impressive icon design.
In 2008, strategic design firm Create With Context released a small study on “How People Use The iPhone.” Some of the comments on app design were as follows:
“If it was a poorly-designed icon, I’d go right past.”
“Bright red feels like it’s saying ‘error, don’t take this one’.”
“Nice and crisp [icon]…does have a big impact on my actually going to look at what that is.”
“I also like vibrant colors…a hi-res icon.”
Particularly with casual iPhone users–that is, users that aren’t necessarily intimately familiar with the thousands of apps that are available on the market–design is a huge influence on what they decide to purchase.
Finding a way to distinguish yourself from the more than 70,000 different app icons out there is difficult, but it’s really the only way to get a sell. Emphasize your app’s uniqueness as much as possible (for example, don’t use the standard gloss option that Apple originally mandated in order to make apps look uniform.) Instead, add your dimensions, shadowing, and shine manually for a tailor-made effect. Be detailed as possible.
Simplicity is Key
This may seem contradictory to the above advice, but remember that simplicity doesn’t mean boring! It just means less. Imagine the purest expression of the purpose of your app and base your design on that concept. And don’t use text, if you can help it: you only get 13 characters to use, anyway, and more likely than not whatever sentence or phrase you choose will only clutter up your design.
Take a Hint from the Pros
If all else fails, you might want to take a look at the characteristics that the top 100 paid apps have in common. They are: animals, cameras, characters, circles, the color blue, the color green, the color red, faces, fruit, logos, music, numbers, planes, trains, and automobiles, sports, violence, weapons, and–you guessed it–zombies. Just try not to include all of these things at once.