igor salindrija, Founder of Appricot

Color-code Icons on Your Phone

When I was a kid, one time I got a large metal box of 36 pieces colored pencils, I had to arrange them in a perfect order of the colors of the rainbow. It would really annoy me, like a thorn in the eye, if one was out of the place. This was a quite normal thing for a kid to do. The colored pencils are sold that way anyways.


I recently saw someone with a similar obsession with books. It must look like a dumb idea to many, but I saw it inspirational, beautiful, refreshing and unique. Imagine a whole wall in your room turned into a book rainbow, rather than just stacks of books, out of order.

I wouldn’t say I love to see rainbows in everything, but I found it a quite practical. For example, when putting something in order, the color may be better indicator than anything else. I can say for myself that I’m a visual guy, the first thing I think of is how something looks, what’s the color of it, and then immediately I know where to look for it, without reading, or thinking of symbols, or which category it belongs to.

Today I do this with icons on my phone, just like back when I was a kid and sorted pencils after each drawing session. Each new app has its predestined place, even before it’s in my phone.

I love beautiful icons, especially those that look edible, that look like candy. Since I look at them every single day, they must be in perfect order and thus be even more beautiful. I love them so much that I, together with my team at Appricot created an app that lets you preview your icon designs before you send them to App Store.

Often, when someone looks at my phone asks, “Are your icons in order by colors?”, to which I answer proudly, “Of course!,” and then I see a delight in their eyes. One girl even asked to take a photo of my phone, so that she can do the same thing later. Several people also became obsessive arranging icons by color on their phones. Their phones look like completely new ones.

If you like the idea and want to give it a try, here are some tips:

First Screen

Choose the apps that you use every day, put them on the first screen and sort them by color. Make sure those are the apps with nice icons. If some look poor or ugly, look for an alternative in the App Store. For example, if calculator, weather, or any other default app icon looks bad, try to find a better alternative. If you have apps that you absolutely must have, and can’t find an better looking alternative, and they are so ugly that they stab you in the eye every time you look at the first screen of your phone, put them in a folder, all the way right on the dock. Trust me, you’ll quickly get used to opening the folder whenever you need them. Yes, you’ll have an extra step , but it’s a sacrifice for a nicer Springboard.

Other Screens

Sort all the other apps by colors, where priority is not as much important, as it will be easy to find them since you’ll get used to their location quickly. If you think of Facebook, you’ll slide to your blue apps, if you think of Path go straight to red ones. Think about how this makes more sense than seeing “Social Networking” folder, which can be anywhere and it is not clear at all. Apology to the color-blind people.

Last Screen

There are some icons that are so ugly that you couldn’t fit them anywhere, so just put them on your last screen, but still try to sort them by color, as best as you can.

Background

The background should be almost solid, ideally with a few shades of the same color. Of the many I’ve tried, the best fit is the navy blue or something similar, a dark color that will be oppose the icons which are generally bright. In my case, those are mostly blurred images or pictures of the universe that should not contain any elements which will distract from the icons. Focus on the icons and make the background neutral. Let the icons shine bright, just like the books on the shelf make a beautiful rainbow.

Bonus Tip

You can do the same thing with your dock icons on your Mac, with no rules other then matching by colors. Just like when I was a little kind and sorted pencils, my icons are now always in a prefect and beautiful order by colors.