4 Rules for Creating Web Icons

August 24, 2014

When it comes to website design, the icons you use play a critical role in creating a modern and coherent design. Here are a few guidelines to help you create modern, attractive, and engaging icons that can serve as part of your website.

Rule 1: Know the Past

Icons have been around for a while now, and before you can know how best to proceed, you must understand how not to. The old style of icon was pioneered by Steve Jobs. The purpose of the original icons used was to create a link and therefore understanding between the seemingly abstract functions of computers and the well-understood outside world. This approach helped make computers more user friendly and easier to use for the general populace in the 1970s, but 40 years later is no longer needed.


Rule 2: Keep it Simple

There is no need to create complex 3D graphics with shadows and sparkly effects for icons. They should be simple, instantly recognisable, and effective. If you can’t identify what it means at a glance, it’s too much. A number of symbols have become identifiable with certain functions. Use them.


Rule 3: We Live in a Flat Digital World

Icons no longer need to represent a real-life object. The realism and 3D effects aren’t necessary – everyone knows what the delete button does, and even an 8 year old knows the concept of an email. Icons are moving more to abstract representations, and one aspect of this is flat design.


Rule 4: Keep it Clean

Finally, as with all design today, clean and spacious rules the day. Icons with plenty of empty space and flat pastel colours will look great in a modern website design.