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We are currently working on the iPad app icon for SalesChamp, an iPad application for sales professionals, and we don't know whether we should put a border around the app icon or not.

This is the official (full) logo: SalesChamp full logo

These are the options for the homescreen we are thinking about:

SalesChamp app icons

As you can see the main difference is the presence of a border. Personally I like the bordered one more because it 'feels' more like an app and the border is also an important element in the full logo. Thirdly, it also combines better with a lighter background photo (as is also recommended in the iOS HIG).

However, a common argument against that logo is the feeling that the sales guy is getting 'boxed in', but the same argument can be made against the full logo.

Therefor I'm asking the wise UX community: should this app icon have a border?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

There's no convention that I'm aware of. Several of the default installed iOS apps have borders (Photobooth, FaceTime, Settings, Youtube) while many don't. Many popular apps have borders (Pandora, Shazam, Fruit Ninja HD) while many don't.

It's all up to aesthetics really; since app icons all function the same (except for Folders, which have a border to suggest that they are folders) there's really no reason to add or not add a border. You're not going to confuse people or break clear conventions by using a border. The bottom line is what you/your users find more visually appealing.

I would note that many apps with borders (especially games) often use the border as a sort of branding; many "HD" games have a border + the letters HD in a corner, and many game companies put a unique border around all their games' icons.

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Many thanks for your input. I agree that it probably comes down to visual aesthetics. – Vincent van Scherpenseel Jun 12 '12 at 7:08

There seems to be an established standard for no border with iOS app icons. I see no reason to break this convention with your current design. The no border icon you posted even looks a lot better than the border one (although I do like the border on your logo).

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Thank you very much for your input. Although not many app have borders some do, for example FaceTime, Reminders and Settings. – Vincent van Scherpenseel Jun 11 '12 at 15:45
Not sure I'd call it a convention, I count 14 borders on the first two pages on my homescreen. – Ben Brocka Jun 12 '12 at 0:27
That may be, but my OS has about 8/45 apps that have one. So it's def the exception and not the norm for me. – Earle Jun 13 '12 at 21:46
Saying that something is an exception based on personal and factual experience based on a small sample is not helping the original poster. If you back up your argument with some crude quantitative estimate by looking at the marketplace, you will gain credibility. (I agree with you that it looks like the exception but you need to backup your arguments) – BlueTrin Jan 16 '14 at 16:16

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