Ensuring your mobile app icon is suitable can be a challenge for any designer. An effective app icon must showcase information at a glance, reflect existing branding, and match the style of the app it opens.
One of the best ways to test which mobile app icon would work best is to use a preference test to ask users which they prefer from a range of designs. You can test anywhere from two to six designs in a single test.
We set up our test by showing participants two app icon variations and asking them to pick their preferred version. The selection criteria was left open ended and a follow-up question was enabled to collect additional feedback.
- Mock up your icon on a home screen to give the test real-world context.
- Keep instructions open ended when making a general evaluation.
- Provide directed instructions for more specific evaluations; for example, “which icon would appeal more to children?”
- Enable a follow-up question to get participants to explain their choice in more detail.
In our test, the design in Option 1 was the winner with a 55.4% success rate out of 101 responses. Though this doesn't constitute a statistically significant result, the written responses from participants gave valuable insights into which qualities were seen as attractive.
Key takeaways from this test include:
- doubling up on the text in the icon and the app label causes unnecessary noise,
- simple shapes and bright color palettes are more visually appealing to participants, and
- matching the icon aesthetic with that of the device operating system is more appealing to participants.
- Try recruiting a larger sample of participants to increase the likelihood of getting a statistically significant result.
- Test icons in the context of various operating systems to ensure your design works well in all conditions.