App A/B Testing of Halloween Icons: Why The Pumpkin Variation Won

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Each year, more and more developers take note of the annual Halloween tradition. Some even dress up their app icons and screenshots in “Halloween costume” to draw additional attention to their apps. However, the pumpkin winner of our current case study has nothing to do with the Halloween craze. This A/B test finished several months ago and it showed good results simply because it had a clear concept and thoughtfully prepared variations.

As we know, the main purpose of placing a character in the game app icon is to try and promote a sense of action which intensifies the user’s desire to start playing right nowDevelopers from MyTona in their test for Seekers Notes: Hidden Mistery app decided to test which character serves this purpose the best.

As it turned out, a pumpkin head won out against the others. In terms of conversion, the variations with the pumpkin head did 9,3% better than the control version.

Here are the factors which helped achieve these results:

1) The human-like characters were replaced with an inanimate object. Generally, there is not that much difference between characters, but in this case, the animated pumpkin turned out to be much more effective than the serious human face. However, if we take the second pumpkin, we will see that it performed better than the control version, but significantly worse than the witch concept:

This proves that it’s always worth creating several versions of a single idea. If a human-like character competes with an inanimate one, consider designing a few versions of each of them. By following this strategy, you are more likely to find the right formula for an icon that entices users to download the app.

2) Use «Action Mouth». If you look through the top games, you’ll discover something specifically common to most of them: the icons have characters with their mouths open. In this case, all three versions with their mouths open performed far better than the control icon with its mouth closed. The fact that this trick works still surprises many mobile marketers, but you can’t argue with numbers.

3) Details matter. Take a look at the angle that each face is looking back at you, the hats on their heads, and the clothes they’re wearing. All these elements help influence the particular expressions on the faces and convey particular emotions to potential players.


  1. Consider designing a few versions for each of the tested ideas.
  2. Review some of the top performing apps across your categories, find the things which are common in the majority of them, and run a test. Play with angled and expression-filled faces, check human-like characters against inanimate objects, test if a character with an open mouth has more of an influence on users’ decisions to download the app.