Icon usability

Icon usability as part of your website’s user experience

A website’s success is composed of small but meaningful details. An example of these are the icons in the user interface. Taking care of icon usability is one of the aspects of making your website user-friendly — with all the positive impacts that it brings. Let’s see more about why icons are important, and what icon usability tips you should be guided by.

What are the icons in the website interface?

Icons are elements of the graphical user interface in the form of small symbols or pictograms. They refer to some idea, piece of information, or call to action. They often contain links to the appropriate parts of the website.

Icon usability

The importance of icons in user experience

Why are these small pictograms an essential part of most website interfaces? Because they are able to:

  • serve as navigation elements for website users
  • save screen space, especially on mobile devices
  • be understood by users who speak different languages
  • be useful on touchscreen devices
  • add an aesthetic appeal and catch the user’s attention
  • enhance the calls-to-action by combining the visual and textual aspects

Tips for icon usability

Considering so many of the goals performed by icons, many aspects should be considered in their design. Here are the guidelines for icon usability that help designers make icons user-friendly.

Icon size large enough

Since icons often serve as navigation elements, they should be convenient to click on — this is a rule of thumb for improving mobile web accessibility.

User-friendly icons should be large enough to provide convenient finger-clicking on touch-screen devices, as well as mouse-clocking on desktop monitors. Clicking should not require zooming or accidentally cause the user to touch any of the neighboring elements.

Icon usability tips

Enough space around

When we talk about icon usability in terms of easy clicking, it’s not just their sizes that matter but having sufficient space between them as well. A good website usability testing could be helpful in this area.

Brand identity in design

Of course, icons are part of your brand’s unique design, so they should be consistent with the rest of your site in style, color, and impression.

Icon usability best practices

Easy-to-understand icons

Icons shouldn’t be simply used as decoration to show how creative you are. Each should clearly convey its purpose so the user grasps it at a glance. Universally recognizable pictograms work best.

Accompanying labels

Clear and relevant text labels enhance the effect. Icons and labels work in a duet to carry each idea.

Icon usability examples

Cross-cultural relevance

If your website plays in the global arena, make sure your pictograms are in line with your audience’s linguistic or cultural differences. For example, gestures may mean different things in different countries. Choose the images understood universally, which will be particularly helpful for users who don’t speak your language.

Relying on both colors and shapes

If you only rely on colors, like green for positive actions and red for negative ones, you can let your color-blind users down. Both colors and shapes are importantfor icon usability.

Icon usability guidelines

No controversial meanings

Icons with multiple or controversial meanings should be avoided for quick comprehension.

Reach a great level of icon usability easily!

What about icons on your website? To optimize the existing icon usability or create new ones from scratch, contact our UX and UI design experts. Let your website itself become an icon of usability. Customer satisfaction and successful conversions will follow!


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