Designing great app icons isn’t a solo endeavour on the part of a designer. Icons require careful feedback and consultation between clients and designers at each stage of development in order to ensure the final product is as good as it can be. Let’s start by talking about the idea of a ‘final’ product. Obviously,… Read more »
What to consider when designing Icon Colour Schemes We have looked at accessible icons and discussed the importance of colour for establishing an icon’s meaning and purpose. Although our earlier article focused mostly on design for visually impaired users, the basic concept can be extended to all users of icons. Colour is a key identifying… Read more »
Flat icon design does not mean boring – Dribbble Icon Design Examples Indeed, flat design can be beautiful and charming, attractive in its purity and simplicity. In a context of an over-abundance of information products, flat design can appear as an island of calm, stability and clarity. Many designers use the method of “almost” flat… Read more »
Despite the recent trend towards Flat Icon design, 3D icons are here to stay and a jolly good thing too. I am all for a bit of variety, but the thought of Flat Icon design being the only way to go did concern me for a while. I am very happy to see the evolution… Read more »
In this Illustrator icon design tutorial we look at creating a small set of ‘almost flat‘ icons from scratch. First, open the Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. Then create a rounded rectangle using Rounded Rectangle Tool with: Width:200px; Height:155px; Corner Radius:10px. After that create another Rectangle with: Width:36px; Height:36px; Rotate it 45°. Unite… Read more »
So here it is… I am very slowly falling in love with Android. This romance is still in its early stages. I am still metaphorically stealing glances from afar, working my way up to my ‘big move’. You see, I have been having a lukewarm affair with iOS for some years now. Never an Apple… Read more »
Although a good proportion of the icon design projects we work on follow an established icon style, such as those found in mobile Apps like iOS and Android or desktop software icons like Microsoft Office and Windows 7, the greatest demand is generally for custom icons in a unique style. Despite the shift in popularity… Read more »
Here is another great comic style illustration from David, one of my favourite Icon Designers at Creative Freedom. This time we have a Super-Villain with a decidedly bad temper which I am sure fans of the 2000 A.D. Comic will have no trouble recalling. Comic Style Icon Design Judge Dredd Icons & Illustration As a… Read more »
A look back at some of our historical Desktop Icon projects Before the advent of mobile devices a desktop icon was either a Windows application icon or a Mac application icon, both being used as graphical short-cuts to launch a software application or utility. Nowadays we have a plethora of mobile devices, tablets and other… Read more »
The evolution of the flat icon, to the ‘Almost Flat’ Icon Style OK, it’s time to nail my colours to the wall. Sorry, but I don’t like the flat icon style. I think they are boring and bland. When they first started appearing and even worse started becoming popular, I did get a little worried… Read more »
Designing a fresh set of icons can really revamp the interface and usability of your application or product. There are several factors to consider when choosing your icons: size, simplicity, use of colour, avoiding text, etc.
But these icons can sometimes represent a function through metaphor, and in so doing it is important that your product causes no offence or confusion, at the same time as being accessible to a wide market. You must take into account the social and cultural factors which are essential in good icon design so that your product is speaking and making sense to people from all walks of life, and nothing gets lost in translation.
You should really avoid basing icons images on puns. No matter how obvious they may seem to you, icons with pun imagery simply do not translate well. One example of this is using an image of a log to represent a function such as a system log. Firstly, this will not translate as ‘log’ in languages other than English. Even supposing this icon did translate to users, they might not be able to form the association fast enough for the icon to be efficiently useful to them. The user shouldn’t feel they have to solve riddles in order to be able to use the application successfully – it’s just not practical.
Another example of this was when the image of a spider was used in icons in the 1990’s, to represent the ‘world wide web’. It makes sense after a few seconds, but users just didn’t click fast enough.
This isn’t going to turn into a scene from a horror movie, don’t worry. If your application is to be aimed at an international market, then parts of the body used in icons should be avoided altogether. You need to avoid imagery that is potentially offensive or crass to other cultures, and certain body parts are a prime examples of this. Some features which are considered ‘clean’ in one culture, such as the nose for instance, may be deemed tasteless or dirty in another.
Hand gestures are also something which can be an offensive sign in disguise. Something totally innocent in your culture could mean two-fingers-up in another person’s body dialect! Hands are often used in icons to indicate ‘pointing’ or choosing a function, a metaphor which could easily backfire. If you find that you are regularly using hands in your designs, you might consider different imagery that could express the function with greater clarity, and less risk of offence.
Again, this sounds like a recipe for a horror movie. But seriously, just as the words ‘kill’ or ‘stab’ are inappropriate for an interface, so any implication of violence or destruction is unsuitable in icon design.
For instance, using a detonation switch to represent ending an application abruptly or ‘shutting down’ is probably inappropriate. Quite apart from any offence it might cause, it could give users the wrong idea about a function, such as that it will damage the application in some way.