We understand that developing an app is a huge undertaking. The blood, sweat and tears that go into this project shouldn’t be limited to the app itself. Being smart about how you present your app will play a key role in how it does in the app store of choice. This includes giving your app a good “face”; or app icon. Before you call up your friend’s sister’s nephew because he has Photoshop installed on his computer, here are some tips to consider when designing a good app icon.

Take the app icon design seriously
With millions of apps in the App Store and Google Play Store, standing out is of utmost importance ‒ especially if there are similar apps in your category. Think of it this way – on a crowded bookshelf, the cover of a book that catches the eye and follows good design principles will be looked at first. Consumers judge books by their covers, even though their mothers told them not to. A strong brand throughout is key; don’t make app icon design the last priority during the development process.

Research, research, research!
Unique app ideas are worth a million bucks. Sadly, someone has probably already come up with yours.Find out who your competitors are and what their icons look like. Are they colorful, do they have a unique look or a fun avatar? You may assume a Scrabble tile is a great icon idea for your new word game; maybe you should do a quick search first. Don’t copy your competitors or Apple might assume your original app is a ripped off copy of Words With Friends – or your competitor might slap you with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

How many different variations of Scrabble tiles can there be?

Keep it Simple, Silly
Some of the best icons in the store have a simple, unique look and stand out during a quick scan of search results. Pretend your icon is a billboard on the side of a highway with a 70 MPH speed limit.If there is too much going on in the app icon, the app will most likely be skipped because someone shopping on the App Store won’t have time to process everything. An icon is also not the place to throw in every Photoshop trick and filter you know. (See note later.)

Consider color
Everyone has a favorite color, but that doesn’t mean it should be in your app icon. How do you finda color scheme that will be attractive to your target audience? Kissmetrics has a great infographic on colors and purchasing power, detailing the psychology behind selecting certain primary and secondary colors for branding. There are also numerous websites and books that go into great detail about color theory and psychology. Once you’ve selected a base color for your branding, check out Colors on the Web, a free tool that allows users to generate eye-pleasing RGB schemes based off of one color.

A quick search for “kids” apps yields bright, fun colors.

Avoid the “deadly sins”
There a number of unspoken rules to keep in mind when designing a good app icon. Things like vertical stacked type, fancy – and illegible – scripted fonts, bad color choices, Googled (read: copyrighted) clip art, using Comic Sans in general, and unnecessary drop shadows should be avoided at all costs. Items unique to the app realm, such as shine filters, should also be evaluated with scrutiny. Just because another app uses it in their icon doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Many filters and “tricks” can make your app seem unprofessional and untidy.

From Building iPhone Apps – these are just bad.

Bonus tip – don’t forget about screen shots
You’ve spent all sorts of effort, time and money on an exquisite app icon design. Why upload boring screen shots? The screen shots give you another opportunity to showcase your app and brand. Design Boost did a great post on creating screen shots that sell. Adding callout text, graphics or other enhancements to your screen shots can further entice a shopper into buying your app.

Livres Audio is now available in the iTunes App Store

Whether fluent or just beginning to learn the language, Livres Audio is an essential audio companion for iPhone users of all ages.

February 13, 2013 – Portland, Oregon – Learning French is easier and more convenient than ever with the new Livres Audio French audiobook app from Inkstone Mobile.  iPhone users can enjoy access to over 1,180 free French audiobooks, including adaptations of classic novels, short stories and poems.

Learn the proper pronunciation and intonation of the French language from native speakers while doing everyday activities and household chores. Speed up or slow down the audio playback to better enhance study and increase comprehension.

“When learning to speak French, it is typically difficult to keep up with a native speaker. We developed Livres Audio with French students in mind,” says Patrick Thompson, founder of Inkstone Mobile. “We have fine-tuned the playback feature to adjust the speed of speech without altering the pitch. For instance, beginners can slow down a reading to better navigate the proper pronunciation, while a more advanced speaker can speed it up for a greater challenge.”

Livres Audio offers the same features as other popular Inkstone Mobile apps, including a sleep timer for listening before bed and high quality audio playback. The app also features Inkstone’s signature user interface with easy navigation and a sleek audioplayer that allows you to download books over wi-fi and play them back anywhere.

Download Livres Audio today and enjoy:
*A sophisticated player with simple controls to skip forward and back, bookmark, or set sleep timers.
*Controls to speed up or slow down the playback in 40 increments without altering  pitch.
*Easy search functions to discover the most-read books from a variety of well-known authors.
*Leave bookmarks and notes to come back to your favorite parts of the selection, or to review pronunciation of a particularly tricky section.
*Download in advance and listen anywhere. No network connection necessary.
Livres Audio is available now for $1.99 in the iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id572367360?mt=8

About Inkstone Mobile:
Based in Portland, Oregon, Inkstone Mobile is an independent software development company founded by Patrick Thompson. Combining a strong blend of design and development skills, Inkstone Mobile’s passion is to craft elegant, easy-to-use applications for mobile devices.