UI/UX Principles: Use Icons Appropriately

You know how to make it a perfect feast for the eyes by creating some exceptional icons for your prospective app. But do you know how to use them systematically and suitably when it is an hour of need? Let us help you here by solving all of your free falls of icon usage.

5 mins read
October 6, 2022

Icons are the graphical symbols to present the purpose of action on any device; Windows, Android, iOS, or any device. These icons are prevalent, available everywhere in this digital span, and play an influential role to make things easier to use.

Icons, whether used for mobile applications or web applications, there should be a clear yet elegant look that stands them apart to comprehend their actual use. Hence, designing icons matters not only for the great user experience but also to make sure that users can understand the purpose widely.

It has never been easy to make the icons trail meaningful and approachable yet, many certain rules come into reality with a great set of practice. That also does not mean that you need to put yourself into a massive pickle, your icons should be pleasing to the eye, lucid, and effortless to make them speak to the user directly.

To add more to the above context, let us walk through the detailed section on UI/UX principles and learn how to use icons appropriately.

Your Icons Should Be Communicative

Your Icons Should Be Communicative

What is the first thing that turns up in a human brain when it sees the icon on any device? It may definitely accumulate several definitions across the world as the icons are peculiar every time, everywhere. Likewise, home, call, search, or edit icons are widely known for their first and conventional appearance. As they have a secure place in the minds of the users that they communicate by their appearance.

At the same time, if there is a new app or icon library with a great UI and has its own way to meet with the users, the icon’s design is relatable and coherent, you might not even need to add text below it. Let’s say about a Home icon, if you put in the conventional icon, anyone could get it easily, here you can not be so creative to use another icon than that of a traditional Home icon. In a few words, your icons should talk to your purpose straight to the user.

Thus said Frank Chimero, “People ignore design that ignores people.”

Your Icons Should be Consistent

Icons Should be Consistent

Styling and designing are twins. They appear different but if done coherently, the aftermaths are brilliant. Icons styling is perfect when done with a righteous mind. Assuming you are keeping the user interface in mind and drawing the most stylish icons library but not keeping the design concept equivalent, it may bring a disaster to all of your efforts in icon presentation. Contradictory design and style are a bad idea in the hope of creating something out of the box.

Your icons library should consist of the same UI including colors, fonts, or layouts. At the same time, it is also necessary to know that meddling with universal icons could be a foul thing. There are many different icon libraries like font awesome, material icons or flat icons, and so on. Do not try to play with them in different sorts of parameters. Let them be as they are. While you can try to be creative with your icons, holding the assets of balance and consistency.

Your Icons Should Be Simple and Schematic

Icons Should Be Simple and Schematic

To avoid a poor user experience, it is another important thing to keep in mind that your icons must be simple with the most elegant looks. Setting icons simply does not mean less design or no styling but it has the vast meaning here, that you need to keep the icons in the same size, form, and color theme to let them look similar and schematic.

To lessen the requirement for a period of adjustment, simple icons are used. Well-designed icons are easy to spot at a glance since the designs promise readability and clarity even at small sizes.

Icons Should Be Approachable And Scalable

Should Be Approachable And Scalable

Make it possible to keep your icons in editable format like somewhat SVG, font icons format. This thing makes your hard work more approachable when you require changing the icons’ shapes, colors, or structures. The more scalable icons are easier to modify and reform. Not only will this reduce the time of the designer but also make this effort worth reworking.

One can use so many options of libraries available in the market to keep their icons in the form of fonts to keep them scalable. There are ample options provided that give the freedom to edit the icons in a variety of vectors to offer a great UI that could be scaled based on different and easy approaches. The scalability of the icons at the resolution part should be appropriate according to the device type; Android, tablet, or OS device. A good icon parameter will define the perfect visibility in any resolution.

Use Icons Sparingly

Use Icons Sparingly

It was time to use icons in bulk and almost everywhere without having a single thought of how it would feel to a user going through with plenty of icons around a website or an application. But today the time demands to use your icons moderately. Do not use them everywhere now and then. The user that is visiting your site may find it pestering and leave the place soon.

Using your icons sparingly is an art to not present the icons in a bothering way. Icons are a way to tell about your business or its values to the users. Hence, they should be attractive, limited in use, and clear.

To bring to the fore, we have a fact quote from Glenn Wilson, “Information overload can reduce a person’s ability to focus as much as losing a night’s sleep”.

Therefore, it is important to use the information wisely and spread it even more wisely.

One Should Test The Icons With The Users

Test The Icons With The Users

Icons are a very important part of the UI design because they’re the first thing that users see when they launch your app. They are also the first thing that users interact with, so you must test them carefully.

Regardless of how much work you put into developing your user interface, you should always evaluate its usability. User testing will show you any usability problems with your UI and enable you to determine whether the icons you’ve picked are clear to your target audience.

By running through the feedback loop of asking for their input and then using that feedback to improve your design, you can make sure that your icons are on track and working as intended.


Icons are highly beneficial elements in designing the user interface. They visually represent a function and inspire users to take certain actions. Designers should not only choose the best icon but also use it appropriately.

We can tell by now that this is not an exhaustive list of tips and tricks. However, it will be sufficient to give it a good start on how icons should be used. So, remember the suggestions above, and good luck with your next project!

UI/UX Design

Abhishek Mahajan

Senior UI/UX Designer

Currently leading a team of frontend designers, It’s been really long, Abhishek is into UI/UX engineering. He is a competent and prominent UI/UX strategist who knows how to design modern software more compassionately and thoughtfully. No matter whether it is a web app or a mobile app or a Saas product, he is brilliant at designing appealing, intuitive & engaging user interfaces and user experiences. Apart from being a certified HTML professional developer, he also holds a certification in responsive web designing which stretches his expertise far beyond UI/UX. Well-versed in designing and frontend development, he knows how to add another dimension to any project and leave a lasting impression on the users. Talking about his personal interests, two things he likes the most in his free time, playing cricket and spending time in volunteer services.

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