The Important Role of Icons in UX Design
There is arguably no better avenue to make a stronger brand presentation than to maintain consistent graphic elements throughout an interface. Icons are the ideal vehicle to deliver this consistent look and feel, and it can be surprising how much leverage they have in conveying the perspective of an entire website.
Well crafted and designed icons bring unification to a user’s website experience and are a critical part of the website design process. Lending a great deal to the overall style of the design, they are essential in helping promote recognition, usability and an intuitive experience. In fact, the most effective icons are the ones that go virtually unnoticed due to the fact that they blend so seamlessly with the design of the interface.
Acting as a visual representation of content, icons are a component of visual storytelling – in its most basic of forms. Delivering core information to the user without the use of written content, they must be functional first and aesthetically aligned second. Providing users with somewhat of a compass, icons are also one of the most integral parts of navigation.
While icons are widely available for purchase in kits or packs in their most generic form, this can be detrimental to a brand that is looking to differentiate themselves and express their point of view. Custom icons are the most effective in transmitting an authentic and memorable tonality to the user throughout the experience.
Design trends in icon design include flat design and material design in complementary or secondary colors to the site’s design or brand. Characteristically simple, geometric shapes with little detail, icons follow basic shapes such as circles or squares. These shapes also allow ease of use when designing for mobile in instances of responsive web design interfaces. Precision is also important, ensuring the same angles and degrees so that the icons align on the page.
Believe it or not, the humble icon has one of the biggest jobs on the road to conversion. They are asked to engage, direct and connect. No small feat considering they are the least dressed for the occasion. The ideal in form and function, well-designed icons will evoke emotion from the user, allowing them to move about the interface with ease and trust.0