6 Mistakes to avoid when designing an iOS App icon

On April 19, 2013

Even the most amazing iOS App doesn’t stand a chance of becoming successful if the icon is poorly designed. There are certain things that are vital to remember when creating an iOS icon, truth is you can apply these tips when creating any icon whether it be for iOS, Android, Mac or Windows systems. We have compiled a list of 6 mistakes that you need to avoid when designing an iOS App icon.

#1. Ignoring the importance of pixels

Pixels are more important than ever, as more and more screens become retina resolution the pixels in your icon becomes more and more important. Remember that just because your icon looks amazing at 512 pixels it might look horrible at smaller sizes, you need to consider the fact that icon design is not a one fits all item.


Mezzoblue have a really good article called Icon Design Sizing, it covers topics such as designing small icons and the things you need to beware of.

When designing your icons however you also need to remember that not only does your icon need to look nice on a small screen but it also needs to look beautiful on a larger screen, remember that some people zoom in on the iPad and you don’t want your beautiful icon to look like a pixilated mess when zoomed in.

#2. Adding text on the icon

This is really an important mistake that unfortunately too many developers still make. Is it might be tempting to add the name of your app in the icon, however unless people have Jailbroken their devices and removed the app names, guess what they are located right underneath the icon.

Secondly remember that these icons are small on the screen and in most cases users can’t even read the text you have added on the icon. To get our point across we have created a sample icon using Mobile Orchard. As you can see when the icon is smaller it is nearly impossible to read the text on there.



#3 Icon is too similar to other icons

This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes people make when designing their app icon. You really need to make sure your icons are not too similar to existing ones. If your icon looks too much like another icon then people will get confused.


Take a look at the icons above, they are really similar, in the past Apple has actually been known to reject apps  with an icon that is too similar to already existing apps due to their anti cloning rules. These rules don’t only apply to the apps themselves but also to their icons.

#4. Forgetting about other cultures

If you plan on adding your app to foreign App Stores then you really need to be careful when creating the icon. Remember that Cultural traditions and in particular gestures can mean very different things in different countries.

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 4.26.59 PM

A real life example could be giving someone the OK sign, in the United States this would mean everything OK, however in some countries such as Brazil this pretty much means the same as using the middle finger. Get the message, you need to consider the countries in which you icon will be used.

#5. Forgetting who the audience is

Before you even begin designing your app icon you really need to sit back and think about who your audience is.


If you were creating an app for toddlers your icon would have to look very different to the kind of app you would create if you were designing an app for a Fortune 500 company. While an app icon for children might be filled with a whole bunch of bright colors you might want to use more conservative colors when creating an icon for a financial app.

#6. Too much clutter

Our final suggestion is actually just as important as the others, you really don’t want to create a cluttered icon as it will be hard for users to understand the purpose of your app.

Furthermore as we have discussed earlier once the apps a scaled down to a small size it will be nearly impossible to decipher the purpose behind your icon.

In other words watch out with adding too many different elements to your icon. Furthermore if you think back to our cultural suggestions, remember that the simpler you keep the icon the smaller the risk of offending someone in another culture if you decide to enter international markets.


There you have it our six suggestions for creating a better App icon. Of course there are many other mistakes you can make when creating an icon, however these are some of the most common mistakes made by designers. However if you think we have forgotten something feel free to leave us a comment.