The Top 10 Golden Rules for Digital Icons

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Updated: February 11, 2014

Iconography has gained immense significance in digital designing and development. The increasing efficiency in human-computer interactivity is the result of consistently improving modes of interaction, such as icons. However, creating effective icons demands certain degree of expertise and the golden rules for digital icons is compilation of advices of those who have mastered the art.

1. Appropriate Size

Size and scalability of icons are essential for visually appealing interface. The best approach is to design iteratively for different OS and expected displays – from Smartphones to smart TVs. Icons are expected to be consistent on the smallest display as well as on the largest display.

2. Familiarity with Formats

PNG is the most common image format especially for multi-OS design. However, one of the popular golden rules for digital icons is to know about all the image formats so that their feasibility can be assessed according to the requirement of the project.

3. Forms & Functions

The debate over form and function is futile. Best icons can be created only when equal importance is given to both and balance is maintained.

Golden Rules for Digital Icons

4. Knowing Audience

It is an obvious necessity to know who are the users, what services they use and when, where, why and how they use it. The golden rules for digital icons say there is no room for assumptions. In case of global presence, use of unambiguous icons or localisation is recommended.

5. Managing Convention and Innovation

Uniqueness is good but should not be overdone. Especially for small projects, readymade of-the-shelf icons are as good as bespoke ones. However, personal touch of creativity can be added to the design it has to meet brand guidelines.

6. Originality

Many developers manipulate icons of other websites to make them suitable for theirs. It only shows lack of skill and tendency of piracy. Icons should be designed exclusively for specific projects.

7. Placement

Defining the position of icons precisely is very important. Popping-up icons have become a trend but not convention. The liveliness of icons should never take the centre-stage as it can divert focus from the brand.

8. Planning

Perhaps, the most important among golden rules for digital icons is planning. Before icons are created, their location on the interface, probable frequency of use and their ability to fit on the page has to be determined. Texts are recommended wherever they suffice.

9. Purposeful Design

Digital world is overcrowded with attractive visuals and even the most beautiful icon can fadeout without a purpose. Creating icons only when there is reasonable need of it is very understandable aspect for designing icons.

10. Single Icon Family

Icons are used for different purposes. It is a golden rule for digital icon to use one family of icons for one purpose and another for others so that clear distinction is maintained. For example, set of icons for navigation, search, social media, etc. should appear different from each other.