Why Learning About Icons is Important

As a UX designer, your role in the app or platform development is to create designs that make users interested in the content that you are providing them. You use your creativity, skills, and tools to create designs for each area of a platform. Icons are among the most important elements in an application or a platform. It can determine where the app is worth using or not as many users get affected by the design and idea behind the icons.
In ancient times, civilizations used icons and drawings to communicate when they could not use their language as a mode of communication. Today, we use icons to create digital interfaces and guide users through different pages of the platform. The idea behind creating icons is the same, i.e., to deliver the message. Icons can be of four types.

Resemblance icons

Resemblance icons are those symbols that represent a type of object with a minimum illustration. For example, an electric cooker has a clock icon that explains that button can set the cooking cycle for custom minutes or seconds. Similarly, there are other icons on the apps, for example, a gear for settings. Most of these icons are simple to understand, explain the context, and make things easier for the users.


Exemplar icons

Exemplar icons are those that give out instructions to the users. For example, a Tupperware bowl will have an icon that will say that it can be used inside a microwave. In most cases, these icons’ concept is complex and is mentioned in detail in the guidebooks for appliances. You can find such icons on the terms and conditions, settings, and account pages of an app or platform.

Arbitrary icons


Arbitrary icons are not easy to understand just by looking at them, and the user needs to learn about them to understand the meaning of the icon. These are generally abstract shapes that are meant to be for certain functions for a device like a WiFi Router. They do not exactly tell you what they mean. For this, you will need a guidebook and match the icon with the instruction to understand its function. Despite such complex meanings, arbitrary icons are accepted and used for different products and platforms.

Symbolic icons

Symbolic icons are the ones that are meant to create a deeper impact on people’s lives. These icons are thought and discussed before getting used by a team. These icons are meant to represent an idea of the company. There is a standard for symbolic icons that are used in the industry. They generally represent certain qualities of a product or a platform. For example, an 18+ icon on a game case means that the video game is not meant for kids and may contain graphic content. Similarly, a cardboard box can have a broken glass symbol to tell that the item inside the box is fragile.

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