Icons are littered throughout modern day webpages but they have been in use long before the Internet and user experience design.
You can find icons both in the offline and online world, on billboards, road signs, window displays on shops and on basically every turn as you walk along the street.
As a communication tool, icons can be used in web design to support text content or in replacement of it where possible. Icons are a way to communicate visual language by using widely recognised images – in fact, the strength of these images lies in its ability to transcend culture and language.
In case you are still wondering what the big deal is – check out these 5 reasons why icons are important in designing your website.
Icons Sum Up Your Content
Icons provide a quick summary of your text and the purpose of your messages. Sometimes, icons can render the reading of additional text redundant. The use of infographics, for example, serves to replace statistical or demographic messages by playing around with elements of a series of icons (e.g. type of icon, size of the icon etc.).
Another popular use of icons is to supplement the headers of paragraphs, and to frame the upcoming content by using a single image. In that sense, the image acts like a quick summary to pre-empt your readers on what to expect in the next few lines of text.
Icons Increase the Readability of Your Web Page
Cluttering your page can cause your users (both new and repeated) to leave your site prematurely. Some pages on your site may naturally be more mundane due to the nature of the content. This can cause a dip in the user experience. Icons are a good way to cut out some of the clutter without losing the content, at the same time managing to keep the page interesting and readable.
On the more ‘lifeless’ pages on your site, consider using icons to spruce up these pages, which will definitely increase the readability of your content overall. Icons will draw the reader in by capturing their attention and keep them on your page for a longer time. Remember that your content may be exciting, but the inability to hook your readers onto the content is a failure in itself.
Icons Point Your Users to the Important Stuff
On most sites, especially on social media networks, icons have completely replaced text when it comes to the important functionalities of the site. Take for example the various icons on the top right corner of a Facebook page (e.g. Friend Requests, Messages), or the social media symbols on any web page (e.g. Twitter, Instagram) that tells you how to engage with the services further.
Through the use of icons, these sites are able to quickly highlight some of their crucial functionalities to their users. Positioning these icons visibly also ensures that your users are more likely to access these functions first every time that they log onto your site. In turn, this can help to reinforce some of these functionalities as crucial, perpetuating the user experience cycle that you have mapped out using icons.
Icons Are Important for Navigation
To enhance your user experience, use icons to guide your users through your site. In both online and offline spaces (think airports!), users use icons to navigate through space both for exploration and to achieve an end goal. Recognisable icons can also be used to represent titles and navigation buttons, creating an effective way to give your website a professional finish.
Icons support the functionality of navigation menus, which serve to provide your users with a quick way to source through the information that they need on your site. The quicker they can find what they need, the more positive the experience your user has with your site.
Icons Help You Shout About Your New Features
Icons are fast, easy and appealing invitations to your users to try out the latest features and functions of your web page. Icons can easily capture the users’ attention on new changes and direct them to the new features. Once you have hooked your reader’s attention, you can then supplement the icon with text to explain what makes the new features so great.
As a marketing technique in rolling out new functionalities, icons provide a way to reach your consumer in a visual way before you elaborate on the new functions. This is crucial in any change management strategy, and can save you a lot of trouble in the long run in sustaining awareness of the new features that you have introduced.
At Krome, we specialise in website design services as well as user interface websites. If you or your client are interested in creating a site, it’s time to tell us about your project or have a chat about what we can do. You can contact us here.