What information do you need to quote on the Icon Design project?

This is the minimum information we require:

  • How many Icons do you need?

    Is it one App Icon or a set of Menu or UI icons?

  • What Style do you want?

    Please provide examples of icon designs you like.

  • Which Sizes and File Formats are required?

    If you are not sure, tell us how and where they will be used; on a website, in iOS7, Android, Windows?

OK, now a tell me a little more…

Writing a design brief for an Icon Design project is pretty much like writing a specification for anything. The first thing you really need to be clear about is what it is you want. The difficulty with design in general is that we often don’t know exactly what we want, which is why we are approaching a specialist.

The best advice I can give is to spend some time thinking about what you need, looking at your competition and confirming to yourself the things you like. If you are working for a large company and are not the final decision maker, you will need to find out what it is they like too.

We get an awful lot of enquiries through our website as simple as this: ‘How much are your icons?’

It is pretty much like walking into a supermarket and asking ‘How much is your food?’ That  simply tells us that, so far, very little thought has gone into the question. Starting discussions with an icon designer at this stage in the thought process is not ideal but can still result in a good relationship and excellent results; it just takes some education from the designer (which is part of what we are here for) and maybe a little longer to get there.

“Being well prepared will save you money and shorten the lead time.”

In an ideal world you will have spent time researching your requirements and present a concise definitive brief we can quote on easily. More often than not a project that starts with a well defined brief progresses more quickly and more cost effectively than the example above. Being well prepared will save you money and shorten the lead time.

So what exactly does a designer need to know to quote on a project?

This does vary a little depending on the size of the project. If you want a single mobile App launcher icon, then we are not going to need the same detailed briefing document for a project with 500 icons.

  • Tell us about your company and your product.

    What you do and who your product is aimed at are very important to the style and ‘tone’ of the icons. Including information about your company’s branding guidelines or even preference of colours is very useful, as is information about your competitors.

  • Scope – How many Icons do you need?

    In most cases the number of icons or size of the project will have an effect on the cost per icon. The more icons you require, the lower the per icon cost is likely to be as elements may be shared over similar icons and the efficiency of designing to your style increases with repetition.

  • Style – How detailed do you want your icons?

    There are as many icon styles available to you as there are stars in the sky. Some can be small, flat and simple; others large and photo-realistic. The style of the icon can have a massive impact on the cost. But nothing is more useful to an icon designer than examples of icon styles you love (or hate!). Everything you provide at this stage is a huge help to the designer.

  • Sizes & File Formats – How and where will you use your icons?

    Many applications have set standards in size and file formats allowing your icon designer to provide you with the specification you need. Examples are iOS7 App Icons, Android Launcher Icons, Windows 8 Icons, etc. However, you may be developing your own software and have very specific file format and size requirements. Knowing what these are can also have an effect on the cost. More sizes generally cost more and some file formats only support certain colour depths and transparency. Knowing what these are can help your designer to advise you on what you need or even a better alternative.

How should the icon design brief be organised?

There is not set way to do this. Every brief we receive is different but the clearest and easiest ones to interpret and respond to are those compiled into a single document. It sounds obvious but we often have clients who want to ‘discuss’ the brief over the phone and leave us to get on with things. Whilst talking is really useful, the designer is going to need a document to refer to throughout the project, not just their memory of a conversation or Webex.

Our preference is for a document to be organised like the example below:

  • Design Statement

    This should be an overview of the project, your goals, preferences and any rules or specific requirements you need us to follow. It should include as much of the information discussed above as possible.

  • Icon List

    This should be a table, preferably listing the following details:

    • Reference Number

      Having a number beside each icon makes it easier to quickly reference an icon during discussion and feedback

    • Icon Name

      The file name you would like us to use

    • Icon Description

      An short explanation of what the icon does or should represent and any ideas you would like us to explore

    • Required Sizes

      A list of sizes in pixels if known

    • Existing Icon Image

      (if applicable)
      If you have existing icons, displaying them here and letting us know if the overall concept is good but needs restyling or needs a complete redesign is especially useful

This kind of document not only makes it easier for us to give you a quote, but also helps to provide a constant point of reference throughout the project. The more information you can provide the cheaper the quote is likely to be as the designer does not have to make many guesses. Also, it is more likely the project will run more smoothly as both parties are already on the same page when the design phase starts.

This might seem like a lot of effort when all you want is an icon but that icon can be incredibly important to your business. App icons are often your first chance to make an impression on the customer before you make a sale, and well thought out User Interface icons can have a massive impact on how your software is perceived and how easy it is to use.

My advice would be to put some thought into what you like the look of and what you want to achieve. This will save you money and is more likely to end in a better result.

Good luck!

Adam Parrish

Owner and creative director at Creative Freedom Ltd. Unbelievably cool icon design expert, husband, and father of two awesome girls. A proper decent chappy and thoroughly fab to work with. Ok, so I wrote my own bio…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *