Guidelines for the Visual Design of Mobile Application Icons Based on Visual Properties

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The design of the icon of a mobile application can have a major impact on its success, by attracting users’ attention and perhaps persuading them to install it on their devices. In the case of the continued use of an application, its icon also has an important role to play in terms of its recognition. In this paper, we take a qualitative approach in identifying different roles that the visual design properties of complexity, concreteness and familiarity play in contributing to the appeal and performance of an application icon during different phases of its use – from first exposure to assurance and continued use. We also discuss several theories which we consider relevant to this research, using case studies of the icons of three mobile applications. We then conclude by proposing that the design of an application icon should take into account the maturity level of the application, and the specific phases of its use for which its icon should be optimized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-276
Number of pages36
Issue number54
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • user journey
  • consumer journey
  • icon design
  • visual design properties
  • visual design
  • user interface design
  • icon use
  • mobile application


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