If you’re an iOS or Mac developer just creating a great app isn’t enough. The great app you have developed and are ready to unleash upon the App Store and its users needs to pull people in. It needs something more than a catchy name and a good description. It needs an icon or logo that not only speaks to what the app does, but is also pleasing to look at and stands out. Sometimes developers can tackle this on their own…but other times they need to turn elsewhere to get just the right look.
One such place to turn would be Wet Frog Studios. It’s run by Aaron Mahnke, an author, podcaster, and designer, who also happens to be the founder of the Read & Trust Network. To say Aaron is deep into creating would be an understatement.
Judging from Wet Frog Studio’s past work one gets a sense of “simple beauty” from previous icons and logos. Something just speaks to the potential user and says, “this app is worth your time and money”, and in an ever-increasing marketplace such as the App Store, this is a huge deal.
Those that work with Aaron have nothing but great things to say, and in my conversations with him I can say the same.
Recently I wanted to talk with Aaron about Wet Frog Studios and icon development in general, below are a few questions and answers:
Q: In your opinion what makes a great icon on the Apple App Store?
I’m going to take the cop-out answer and say that an icon that sticks to basic design principles will do well. Design is about communication, and designing an icon is just an exercise in understanding the core product and purpose of the app and then communicating that through the icon.
That said, people judge books by their cover, and apps by their icon. I like to focus on minimal detail, high contrast and eye-catching layouts. Research the current selection of app icons in your App Store category and decide what colors and styles would stand out the most, and then execute those ideas well.
Q: How important is it to have a great icon? Why?
Icon design is a lot like hiring a landscaper to prepare your home for sale. The curb appeal that the landscape designer will create is meant to draw people out of their cars, up the walk and into the front door. Without that curb appeal, no one will believe that the house inside is wonderful and perfect for them. You have to give them reason to walk inside.
App design is the same thing. The app can function perfectly and do amazing things for the user, but if the icon is unattractive, unclear or not designed for the target audience, it will fail to earn the clicks and downloads it needs.
Q: What information do you typically need about an app before beginning your work on an icon?
I have a list of things I need. Some are specific to the world of app icons while others are pulled from my logo design process. I like being given screenshots of the app itself, a color palette and and specific requirements for the icon content. I also ask for a high-level description of the app, its function, what problem it solves and what key concepts the app represents. All of these pieces combine to paint a comprehensive picture of the app.
Q: What kind of turn-around time is typically involved in creating an icon?
App icons can take days or weeks. Most design projects depend heavily on my client’s ability to communicate clearly and quickly; the faster they respond with clear feedback, the faster I can work.
I would say a developer looking to have an app icon designed should anticipate a one or two week process.
Q: Besides the icons you have created, what are some of your favorites? What stands out about them?
I love anything from Tapbots. Their level of detail, consistent branding and touch of whimsy are all key ingredients that make me want to buy every app they create.
Wet Frog Studios has created some top-notch icons in the past, my favorite being the “Basil” icon (shown above). It is just simple, elegant, and perfect for the application itself. If you’re looking for someone to create an icon or logo for an iOS or Mac app, check out Aaron at Wet Frog Studios, you’ll be glad you did.