App icons are often the first window users get into your game when browsing through an app store or their device homepage - working like your game’s landing page. So knowing how to create a good app icon is critical (luckily we’ve put together a handy guide).
But, like everything in game development, coming up with a good icon isn’t one and done. You need to constantly iterate and test new ideas, finding new ways to engage your existing users and acquire new ones.
Why you should consistently update your app icon
On average, a US-based user will have 8 mobile games on their device - updating your app icon is a tried and true tactic to stand out on their home screen and make your game the one users open when they’re looking to relax or just kill some time. For example, Hide My Proof was able to increase their DAU by 7.5% by, in part, updating their app icon.
Plus, updating your icon can also help you convert new users, grabbing the attention of those who may have previously seen your game in their store and decided to give it a miss. With a new icon, you get a second shot at converting these users - for example, Camo Sniper saw an increase in installs of 180% by updating their icon.
This is where AI comes in. AI can speed up the production of your icons, helping you to quickly come up with new ideas and create prototypes for new concepts so you can improve your conversion rate and DAU. Here are some best practices for using AI when updating your app’s icons.
Note: While AI is a great way to generate draft designs, a designer needs to do some polishing before you put your icon out into the world. AI can do a lot, but what it produces probably won’t be end-user ready. It’s best used to help you get an idea if something works for your icon, not to generate the finished product.
Get new ideas for updating winning concepts with the help of Midjourney’s generations
Often, the most challenging part of optimizing your app icon is knowing where to go next: you’ve tried a new background color, a new object, or a new way to show off your core mechanic, and now you need a new idea. This is another area AI can be useful - ideation.
Give Midjourney your concept (like “a man kicking a ball” for a sports game) and a prompt (your text input) for new ideas (“in several different positions”). Many of the generations will likely not be up to par, but it’s not about getting a perfect end-product - it’s about getting new ideas using the AI as a tool to brainstorm creatively.
This is particularly useful when you have a winning icon idea that already has a strong conversion rate. A proven way to consistently maintain conversions and boost DAU is by mimicking an existing winning icon with iterative changes. For example, Color Match has mastered their app icons, showing off the mechanics of the game with a hand matching a color swab to an object, but the game needs a ton of new ideas around this core concept to keep iterating on it. AI is able to offer a whole assortment of new objects (they don’t even need to be in the correct style) and designers can use these for inspiration.
A buffet of variants
Icon variants are another challenge that Midjourney can help you solve - coming up with new and interesting designs to represent your game. Ideating with a prompt (see above) is a good way to get inspiration, but sometimes you don’t need a completely new concept, but a small change to an existing icon to keep it fresh.
Start by uploading your icon. Then, instead of providing a prompt for an entirely new concept, ask for a variation of that icon without inputting too much detail and ask the AI to keep its variations minor. This will give you an array of icons based on the same core concept - helping you find inspiration to iterate with minor changes.
AI, your creative sidekick
AI is a powerful tool. Use it like a creative sidekick, giving you helpful hints and out-of-the-box ideas that can help you find your next winning icon. With a little machine magic you’ll be able to rapidly find the answer to that age old app icon question: “what’s next?”.