Are you a software developer with minimal design skills? You don’t have to let that be a stumbling block to publishing an App. One of the key elements of the design of your App is the icon. You don’t want to make a bad impression by having an ugly looking icon. That is why the rest of this article is dedicated to discussing ways to procure a decent icon. (Note: this article is part of a series about making Android Apps as a side project. Click here to read the introduction.)
Your Icon’s Importance
Often times the first impression of your App’s design (and implied quality) is the icon. You can show that you are serious about your App by spending the time and effort to get a decent icon.
Additionally, if you use the Action Bar to provide a consistent Android user experience, your icon will be a highly visible part of the user interface. The Action Bar, and therefore the App icon, appear on almost every screen of my Apps.
The picture above shows three Android App icons. If you have an eye for design you might be able to tell which one was created by a professional. The Eco Trip icon featuring the gas pump handle was an original creation by a freelance designer. I made the other two icons from public domain clip art.
Review Official Documentation For Android App Icon Design
The first thing you should do when thinking about your App icon is review the guidelines from the official documentation. Let’s face it, often times developers and designers focus on iOS first. The design philosophy for Android is unique. If you want your App to look like it was made for Android, you should follow the design recommendations from Google.
Hire A Designer
It is easier than ever to hire a designer. Digital payments and the internet smooth out the friction of hiring someone who specializes in icon design. The designer for the the Eco Trip icon came from a referral. The designer was very patient as we worked through many revisions. I was happy in the end and spent less than $100 for a custom icon. If you are making an App let people know, you never know which one of your friends has already been down this road and may be able to provide a referral.
If you are on a tight budget and want to pay someone else to design an icon, you can try fiverr. I haven’t used fiverr for an icon before but based on the reviews on the site, there are several icon designers with happy customers.
Make Your Own
If you have more time than money, or if you just like to flex your creative muscle once in a while, you can always make your own icon. You can read this tutorial for some tips.
You should use some kind of vector graphics to make sure that the icon looks good at all the resolutions that are needed for an Android App icon. The open clip art web site provides a good collection of public domain clip art.
I found an appropriate icon image for the Email Sign Up App just by browsing the open clip art web site. The Eggspense icon, however, is a composition of two different graphics from the site (plus a gradient that I applied with gimp.)
Conclusion, Get An Icon You Can Be Proud Of
One of the reasons to do a side project is to have a portfolio piece that you can show other people. Show them that you care about your work by using a quality icon.