Icons come in all shapes and sizes, but the iconography that pertains to graphic design is relatively small. While they may be small in size, they are still as powerful. This is why you need to focus on your icon design diligently. Designers from all walks of life attest to the creative investments undertaken to create influential icons.
The icons are usually simple and have a distinct expression associated with them. If you are not aware of what an icon is, it is a small picture or image that characterizes an object or some other program. The imagery is quite simple and conveys a strong message pertaining to its represented brand.
The best characteristic of an icon is that it is easy to remember and has a more everlasting impact than any other design element. This is why it is used in the majority of graphical interfaces. Read on to know more about the fundamentals of icon design:
1. Icons with Various Meanings
The name speaks for itself. These icons can mean different things and have numerous meanings associated with them. This is why their usage can sometimes be contradictory or conflicting. Suppose you look to the example of a start and a heart, the two conflict with one another.
The meanings of these icons will transition in every medium they are represented in. They might even compete to gain dominance in that specific medium, which symbolizes a lack of cohesion. This makes it difficult to interpret such icons for users who view them in their apps or other mediums.
2. Universal Icons
The universal icons are icons that enjoy universal recognition. Meaning people worldwide recognize the symbols of these icons and interpret them on a broader scale. Such examples include icons for shopping carts or homes. The vast majority of businesses that hope to take their brands to an international stage try to incorporate these universal icons in their designs. But they face one problem.
Universal icons are extremely rare and uncommon. There are only a few examples of such icons present, and almost all of them are already utilized by brands. If you co-opt any such icon for yourself, the chances of another business staking its claims over it are relatively high.
3. Unique Icons
The basic tenet of a unique icon is to showcase an individual object or unique brand. However, it is worth noting that many businesses that have tried to use these icons have largely failed in their endeavors.
A primary example can be seen with Apple trying to use some colored circles to represent their gaming center. An overwhelming majority of their users couldn’t decipher their icons, which forced the company to discontinue this policy.
4. Effectiveness of An Icon
It is necessary to ensure that the icons you implement in your designs must be readable. If an icon is too detailed or has too much content, it will be hard for the user to understand or decode. You need to opt for a more simplistic approach, especially when it pertains to smaller icons. Look to icons of Google maps as the perfect example. Remember, your icons will be viewed not only in large mediums but also in smaller ones where they have to be visible, if not more.
You need to use thin strokes and leave ample space in your icon for convenience. If your user is able to comprehend what your icon is trying to convey in one glance, that means your icon is adequate and functioning according to your business interests.
The primary purpose of an icon is to convey its message to you with clarity. It operates as a messaging platform for diverse brands. You need to clarify the symbols, metaphors, and all the elements in your icon design; otherwise, the people will not be able to understand it, which can cause unnecessary confusion.
It would be best if you used commonly used icons such as the home icon that is universally recognized by the world. If you depict this icon appropriately, it will provide giver impetus to people who want to engage with it. If you portray your home icon as a circle, it will only confuse the viewer; hence you should refrain from taking such an alien approach.
If you hope to maintain your icons’ clarity, you need to ensure that they are consistent in their content. You also need to ensure that their consistency is maintained in whatever app or interface they are portrayed in. All the elements functioning within the icon must remain balanced. If the icons consist of more details than the others or are more visible than the others, you will lose your consistency and interest. This puts a dent in the customer experience you want to accumulate. Keep the viewers in mind whenever you select your icons.
As is the case with all graphic design elements, iconography is also a facet of graphic design. Icons epitomize the essence of your brand and operate as a de facto representative for your business. You need to keep in mind that your icon is a manifestation of your brand, which is why you need to ensure that your brand style and tone are coherent. You can set your brand’s tone from professional to cheerful, which can be reflected in your icon.
If the emotions emanating from the icon differ from the brand it is representing; then your icon approach is a failure. As long as your brand and icon’s relationship is symbiotic, your icon effectiveness will prevail in the long term.
The prospects of creating an icon design are not necessarily as challenging as a website design, but it does have its perks. But suppose you want to accelerate this process. Just be sure to test your icon out with your audience before you can launch it to a more massive one. Early feedback will determine whether or not your icon has the required effect. If it does, then you can proceed with care.
Salman Zafar is a serial entrepreneur, digital marketer, writer and publisher. He is the Founder of Techie Loops