Icons are used in website design, product promotion and for many different purposes. Icons are very small in size and you have to give attention to the minute details to make your designs successful. Even the most experienced graphic design artists make mistakes in icon design. Here are some of the deadliest mistakes you must avoid to design a meaningful icon.
- Wrong Object Selection- You must use the right objects for your icon to help people understand what the icon stands for. For instance, Gmail uses the image of an envelop in their icon that clearly conveys the message to its viewers.
- Not Making a Rough Sketch- Conceptualization is the most important step behind any design project. You should make a rough sketch of your design concept on a paper and use it as your guideline. Add or delete elements in your sketch, and once you are happy with your design, you can replicate using a design software.
- Failure to Understand the Audience- Your icon design will be viewed by people all over the world and therefore, you must not hurt anyone’s cultural beliefs. Icons are often designed using symbols, but symbols have different meaning in different countries. For instance, a pentacle is considered as a holy symbol by the Jews, while Christians think of it as a symbol of Satan.
- Not Creating the Icon in Bitmap Format- Some designers think that designing an icon in vector and raster format is enough. However, you need to design the icon in bitmap format as well. Vector formats don’t offer visual clarity when made smaller and therefore, you need to design a bitmap for better scaling facility.
- Using Too Many Details- Icons are generally used in very small sizes and if you add too many details in your design, your icon will look complicated. Design a clutter-free icon to make it effective.
- Adding Unnecessary Elements for the Sake of Aesthetics- Every designer wants to design an aesthetically appealing icon. However, that does not mean you can add unnecessary shapes and symbols in your icon. Meaningless symbols and lines only diminish the visual appeal of your icon. If you want to give your icon a distinctive look, you can use lighting and shadow effects.
- Similar Design- When you design a bunch of icons for a group of products, you need to make sure that they reflect a coherent look, but don’t look too similar. If all your icons look the same, it will be hard for your target audience to understand which icon stands for which product. For instance, the icons of MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint offer a matching design, but you can easily distinguish them.
- Failure to Maintain Design Consistency- When you are designing a set of icons for a group of products, like MS Office, make sure you maintain a design consistency in all your icons. For instance, if you use a particular light and shadow effect in one icon, you must use the same effect in other icons as well. Otherwise, it won’t look like they belong to the same group of products.
- Using Bland Colors- Icons are very small in size and they need to attract the viewers’ attention. If you use monochromatic or dull colors in your icons, viewers won’t notice it. Always use bright colors and go for unique color combinations to make your icons noticeable.
- Inappropriate Perspective for Small Icons- If your icon does not look good when compressed, your design is a complete failure. During the design process, you must continuously experiment with the size and perspective of your icon to make sure that it always looks brilliant from any angle.
Every designer makes mistakes, but when you are aware of the most common mistakes, at least you can try and avoid them.