But how exactly does one make a “good” app icon? What does that even mean? Fear not, I’ve put together some tips and advice to help answer these questions and to guide you on your way to designing great app icons.
I’ve been designing, making resources and giving talks about icon design for the past couple of years. In this article, and in the video at the end, I’ll sum up what I’ve learned about this amazing craft.
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The first things you need to understand when setting out to create an icon is what exactly an app icon is and what job it performs. An app icon is a visual anchor for your product. Think of it as a tiny piece of branding that not only needs to look attractive and stand out, but ideally also communicates the essence of your application.
The word “logo” is thrown around carelessly these days. App icons are not logos. While they certainly share branding-like qualities, they’re under a lot of different restrictions. It’s an important distinction for a designer to make: Logos are scalable vector pieces of branding designed for letterheads and billboards. Icons are most often raster-based outputs customized to look good within a square canvas, at specific sizes and in specific contexts. The approach, the tools, the job and, therefore, the criteria for success are different.
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