I have to do some themes for this mobile app I am designing, the problems is after I sent the first preview of the themes to the client he came back saying that he wants different icons for each theme... which I find a little awkward I just don't know if it is or not, or how to explain to him about this. Right know the only thing that is different at the icons between themes is the style(color + effects(drop shadow etc)).

Shouldn't the icons always be the same, only different in style? Just so you don't create confusion in the user's mind just by switching a theme...

Themes I have to do are like : Apple menu style, Windows Mobile Style, Facebook path menu style etc...


OK. After reading your comments and answers I think that the app will be cross platform, so it needs to resemble stuff in the Operating System of the device(OS,Windows Mobile, Android).

But it is kind of weird cause I only have iOS and Windows Mobile, no android, an these 2 mentioned earlier came in a list of other themes like :Retro look, Facebook look, Classic paper so... i think it was a matter of bad communication between the client and me...

From what I get from you answers if it is cross platform its better to stick to the device Operating System "Defaults" not so much in term of look but more in layout and such things, and make sure to use the "native" stuff that comes with an app on those different devices... this is gonna be a long one, need to do some more research...:)

  • Is your app a cross-platform app (iOS, Android, Windows, HTML5, etc) whose theme will be selectable by the user no matter which OS they're using, or will each version of the app have its OS-specific interface?
    – jcmeloni
    Jan 16, 2012 at 17:44
  • If themes are to be switched frequently, yes. If not, no. Jan 16, 2012 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


There is no rule that says whether icons should be the same across different themes or not. If the icons in all icon sets are good, and the users don't switch themes very frequently, you won't cause a lot of confusion by using different icon sets, especially when they have a nice fit with the theme. However, crafting a great icon set is a lot of work, and it may be better to focus on one set of icons than to diffuse your effort across multiple versions.

Is there any reason in particular why you are offering different themes? Apple vs Windows Mobile goes beyond just graphics when it comes to user expectations.


If you're talking about an app for someone's mobile phone, realize that they're not going to change mobile phone OSs often, if ever.

Because of this, I'd recommend each version of your app look like the system's native apps as much as possible; this'll keep the new things each user has to learn to a minimum. (At least for iOS, consider using UIKit Artwork Extractor to use any artwork you'd need that you can't get via standard means.

I don't understand why you'd want to let users run, say, your iOS app using a theme that makes it look like a WinMo or Android app; it'll interfere with your ability to use standard controls which will save your users aggravation and you a large chunk of time.

(If I've misinterpreted what you're trying to do, please edit your question to make it more obvious.)

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