How to Make an App Reskin Look Original

How can a mere app reskin look and feel original? Is originality even on an app reskinner’s mind? It should be! As convenient it is to ride on a viral trend, it is not a sure-fire way to earn the top spot or even drive downloads and revenue. Aside from that, an app reskin that lack originality would cause a lot of criticism not only from other developers but also from users.


So how can things become a win-win situation between the app reskinners and app users? Here are ways to make even the most cloned app reskin into a unique creation:

  1. Only use the framework of the app: its general concept and gameplay. Sometimes, even when an app reskin is visually different from the original app, the use of similar UI elements (especially if the placement and design layout are the same) and UX design would immediately give away the fact that the app is not original.
  2. Resist the lure of imitation. There are proven and trusted design strategies; then there are original design strategies. It’s tempting to just follow a popular app design template especially if the design is considered as the de facto standard of the market. You don’t need to think of something new, just think of solutions in order to improve the existing design. Even trends don’t require every new app to be uniform.
  3. Create your own trademark and own it. Even with clones sprouting the very moment an app becomes successful, it’s worth noting that the original still stands out. It’s mostly because app studios promote apps as if they are brands. There’s either a catchy tagline or an unforgettable character and the studios build from there. They aim for memorability, a characteristic that makes the app sell itself even without aggressive marketing.
  4. Repetition can do funny things to users’ minds. Just imagine downloading an app you’ve never heard of before. It looks interesting but as you open it, there’s this nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you’ve seen this app before. It could be just déjà vu, but the font is really familiar. This usually happens with app clones and apps that emulate popular apps. Do not copy design elements from other apps if said elements do not represent the brand you want to create. Create custom color palettes and avoid using typography (especially the customized ones) prominently used by other apps.
  5. Small details matter. Sometimes injecting character or just a certain vibe about an app changes the way people perceive it. Set goals to engage users to a personal level. The main character could be a typical cute cat that is not really a standout but is animated to make different facial expressions. Interactions like this can create a unique user experience.
  6. Good quality performance is a must. “That’s an app reskin. I’m sure it’s crappy” said a good friend but he downloaded the app anyway. The app reskin was still loading after thirty seconds…then it crashed – and that’s just the beginning. As users demand more from free apps, app reskins should aim to deliver the best quality. An app reskin after all, needs to hook the audience before the time is up.

Crazy App Ideas that Actually Worked

The internet had sprouted crazy ideas over the years and it seems that the mobile app industry had inherited this penchant to sprout the craziest of app ideas. The curious thing is that a lot of these app ideas actually work!  But how did these apps became mainstream? Is there some faulty wiring in our brains that make us addicted to nonsensical apps or is it just our nature to be attracted to this sort of entertainment? No matter what the real reason is, these apps are successful and we as reskinners could learn a lesson or two from these apps.



Average revenue: $356k/month

How it works:

Pou is a digital pet with a concept is similar to the Japanese digital pet Tamagotchi. Pou is a triangular alien pet (some say it’s a rock or a pou-tato) that players can raise like a regular pet. The art is simplistic but has a certain charm that engages users.   


The science behind the success:

Simulation games are addictive, especially those that simulate real-life interactions where one can develop an emotional attachment, a sense of control of circumstances, personal user experience and engagement.


But not all simulation games are successful.  Paul Salameh (Pou’s developer)  especially put a lot  of work  on details and the smooth flow of the gameplay.  In-app monetization in Pou isn’t also as prevalent compared to similar apps. Pou also presented an eccentric air of novelty. It isn’t the typical pet you keep at home, giving a sense of exclusiveness.


The beauty of apps like Pou is that you can virtually reskin it as many times with as many themes as possible without looking like a blatant clone. The concept in itself is very generic and you can replace Pou with any character you can think of.


Other simulation apps that surprisingly made it to the top:

  • Fake Smoker: The Digital Smoke
  • Pimple Popper
  • iBeer



Average revenue: $10,000 (at its peak)

How it works:

iFart is a fart simulator (one of many).  It is one of the many prank apps that litter the app stores. The fart machine novelty is passed on to this app with the added bonus of technological sophistication.


The science behind the success:

The gratification received from pranks is a natural part of human behavior that aims to conform and relate to other’s situational behavior. It’s either we’re on the prankster’s or the victim’s side. With these prank apps, we feel a certain sense of superiority, the more ridiculous the results, the better we feel about ourselves. Fart apps are vulgar and offensive but some of these prank app ideas actually come from recent trends that circulate around the internet. These trends seem to influence people’s opinion of acceptable social behavior.


Other prank apps that surprisingly made it to the top:

  • Dog Poop!
  • Dude, Your Car!


Hold On!

Average revenue: Unknown

How it works:

Hold On! is an app with only one function: you just press the “Hold On” button for as long as you can, competing with your friends through Bluetooth and checking out where you place on the online leaderboards.


The science behind the success:

Less is more. App stores are crowded with  apps that offer the same functionality. The advantage of having a lot of options to choose from can also become a disadvantage. It’s the same with the option between a multiple and a single function app. Hick’s Law describes how the number of choices affects the length of time one arrives at a decision. More choices mean more time and  lesser satisfaction on the user experience design. Hold On!’s direct approach, with no gameplay at all, removes any need for a certain degree of intellect and real skill, making it in a sense, an app for everyone.


Other single function apps that surprisingly made it to the top:

  • Yo
  • Push for Pizza
  • Rubby Bird