Icons – the truffles of the design world
Truffles you say? I was trying to think of an analogy that would work for client we are working with at the moment. I was trying to explain that icons should add value, enhance the message, but be used sparingly, seemed apt.
The digital age has really brought icons to the forefront. The lack of space and visual methods of navigation have created a rich field for optimal icon use. Where we find clients getting confused is that they feel print products and other collateral need to be brought into line with their digital output.
Icons are not eye candy. They should serve a specific purpose and create a better user experience. Just like truffles they should be used sparingly.
When used correctly they can provide visual cues, save space (in particular in digital applications) and create familiarity patterns that will further reinforce your brand.
- Are the useful or just pretty?
- Are they functional or visual?
- Do they replace an instruction or a title?
- Are they a constant across your brand?
- Are they recognizable as being in your brand family?
- And lastly, if they were removed would it affect the user experience?
Thinking about the above in relation to current icon use will assist you in determining whether there is value in your icons. If you are about to introduce them, this will allow you to focus on whether they are actually needed.
As with all graphic design and digital design, everything on the page or the screen should serve a purpose.