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An optimized app icon is a critical part of your App Store Optimization (check out all our best ASO resources here.

With more than half a million apps on both the iTunes Store and Google Play, users have less and less time to make the decision of downloading or not your app. When users browse or search the app stores, their first (visual, at least) impression of your app is your app icon.

That makes it very important for your app marketing, along the fact that you’re going to be using that icon in a lot of places (your app website, your app press releases, etc).

Having a great app icon that stands out doesn’t mean you’ll get tons of download or that your app is great, but it sure will help get users to explore your app in more depth, read your app description (or part of it) and check out your app screenshots. To finally download your app!

I’m not a design expert and I don’t see the point of rephrasing an existing blog post, so I’d rather point you out to a great post by Michael Flarup on iPhone App Icon Design.

For those of you in a hurry, here are his key points:

  • Don’t use words; you have your app name for that.
  • Keep it simple, boil down your app to one simple thing
  • Design with details (even if you’re the only one to see them!). You now have to provide a 1024×1024 icon, so make sure it looks great full screen.
  • Make your icon consistent with your app, so that users don’t get confused and remember you. If you have several apps using the same concept, design your icons with consistency
  • Stand out from the crowd and innovate
  • Additional tip: adding borders to your icon can ensure it looks great on all backgrounds (you never know where it will be used)

Here is a great app icon template.

For Android, be sure to check out Google’s Icon Design Guidelines and their Android Icon Templates Pack.

These advices are good for every app icon, regardless of the icon being for an iPhone app, and Android app or any other platform. If you need some inspiration and want to see great examples of iOS icons, browse through the iOS icon gallery.

If you want to keep up to date with the other aspects of App Store Optimization, check out our App Store Optimization page and our App Developer’s App Store Optimization Cheat Sheet.

Do you have anything to add on how to design a great app icon? Let us know in the comments!

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