Do Icons Aid The User Experience


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A brief overview of iconography within web design and how it helps users to experience content. It also contains background and history of iconography and case studies of best practice uses of icons.

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Do Icons Aid The User Experience

  1. 1. user experience agency
  2. 2. How Do Icons Aid the User Experience?
  3. 3. ResearchWhat’s the History of Iconography?
  4. 4. • Icons have long been the best method for human interaction• Objects, occasions, and events have long been summarised with icons• They underpin religion & culture around the world and are understood by all• They provide instant communication for all viewers Some Stone-Age ‘icons’: Pre-speech communicationThe History of Iconography
  5. 5. • Icons have this same effect in the field of web design: 1. They communicate instantly 2. They can explain actions 3. They attract attention and draw the eye 4. They speak in a universal language 5. They make analysis and comprehension simple and clear The Apple homepage makes excellent use of icons to explain, aid navigation and communicateIconography in Web Design
  6. 6. ResearchWhat are the Benefits of Using Icons?
  7. 7. • Websites are easily scanned• Features within each page are instantly explained• Sections and separate elements are easily pulled out so that the user can jump to the content of interest• This improves navigation and user enjoyment Custom furniture maker J.Alexander ( uses icons to quickly summarise the content withinSpeeds up User Comprehension
  8. 8. • Navigational elements can be converted to icons• This speeds up a users experience on the site, as well as demystifying it• Recognisable icons can jump out to a user through familiarity• More information can be processed in less time Although not a piece of web design, this plane exit diagram explains, simply, the means of escape without words, and is very quickly understood.They can be Used to Explain Actions
  9. 9. • Specific areas of web pages can be pulled out with icons• This usually applies to call-to-actions that present the main site message, such as download, contact etc.• These need to be familiar so that users know what to be drawn to! Instantloop ( make use of an enormous telephone to draw the users eye to the main call-to-actionAttracts attention to Important Elements
  10. 10. • Icons are universal• Messages can be conveyed to your audiences no matter what language they speak• It is important to remember, however, that not all images are the same to everyone: Flags are an obvious and simple way to communicate universally, used here to help the user choose theirA red British ‘Postbox’ and a blue U.S. ‘mailbox’ language ( Provide a Universal Language
  11. 11. • Graphics can make the maths much easier to digest• Tables, charts and other graphics are very quick to grasp• Other icons for analysis and comparison include; ticks and crosses, arrows, smiley faces etc. An infographic from Jeremy Fleischer ( that presents data in an interesting and informative way for the viewerAllow for Instant Data Analysis Through Infographics
  12. 12. DesignWhat Makes for Good Icon Design?
  13. 13. • Icons need to work in conjunction with other graphics on your site• Within this, icons sets need to have an over-riding style and theme.• Planning out a whole set of icons beforehand (sometimes even future-proofing sets with icons your client might not have even thought about) will help you to create a These icons from Artua ( unified style demonstrate a consistency of style, size and colour palette within a range of varied objects.Icons Need to Work Together
  14. 14. • Icons should not contain any text,• This immediately restricts your icons to the language the text is in• With smaller icons, text is hard to read• Avoid use of elements that appear elsewhere on your site, such as menus and other interface elements,• This can be confusing for your users The first icon demonstrates the confusing nature of interface elements within an icon and the second shows how text can inhibit international understandingDon’t Use Text Within an Icon, Or Web Design Elements
  15. 15. • All icons within a set should look unique• A uniform style does not mean that the icons should look identical• Confusion can arise when two icons look similar These icons have a very distinct, recognisable style but offers enough differentiation that each icon stands outCreate Differentiation Between Your Icons
  16. 16. EvaluateIn Conclusion
  17. 17. • Why are icons excellent for • What makes a well designed icon? improving user experience? 1. Well designed icons are familiar and 1. Icons are essential for eye-catching good, simple, clear web design 2. They are different enough to not 2. They promote confuse a viewer, but still work in understanding, regardless of spoken harmony language 3. They are a separate, independent 3. They speed up understanding and element separate from text or other perception interface elements, helping then to pop off the screen. 4. They draw the eye to key areas and calls-to-action 5. They can aid navigation around a web pageHow Do Icons Aid The User Experience?
  18. 18. ImplementHow We’ve Put Icons Into Action
  19. 19. • A large icon is provided for each section to aid navigation• This also helps to locate themselves on the site• Sub-level icons for Media Type help pull out these sections• All icons have a similar style, but the added detail level of the larger ones helps to draw them out and distinguish themIngenuity
  20. 20. • On the CIC site we’ve used icons to pull out top-level sections• They are unified by a simple, clever use of colour and simple vector style• Effective use of colour brings out the main calls-to-action at the top of the page• Language settings at the top of the page use universally recognisable flags to promote understandingCIC
  21. 21. • Icons are used to pull out the 4 main sections at the top of the page• Each helps to clarify the topic• Within each hero section tick icons help to solidify the points being made to the viewer and break up textBarclays Credit Focus
  22. 22. Thank you!Tom WallisGraphic