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Metaphors

Icons should be pictorial and convey meaning through a resemblance to a physical object or function. When you design the icons for your app, create them with a professional and premium design that is authentic and uses natural dimensions. Icons should be: 

  • Modern
  • Highly recognizable
  • Single-colored
  • High contrast
  • Low-to-mid detailed
  • Equally weighted

In addition, consider the following guidelines:

Resemblance

Make sure that the outline and shape of the icon resemble the physical object or its function as much as possible. Stay true to the meaning of the icon. Focus on the key outlines of common objects. In most cases, this approach makes the icon highly recognizable. The result should stand on its own, without any explanatory text.

A scissor icon that resembles the physical object as much as possible.

Recommended

A scissor icon that does not resemble the physical object as much as it could.

Not recommended

Viewing angle

To make an icon highly recognizable, design it so that it is viewed from one side only. In general, don't use angles or rotations. Icons should not use any 3-D perspective, but can be aligned to 45° to fill the focal area. This approach results in a more balanced icon weight.

A magnifying glass icon that appears at a recommended viewing angle.

Recommended

A magnifying glass icon that doesn't appear at a recommended viewing angle.

Not recommended

A drop box icon that appears at a recommended viewing angle.

Recommended

A drop box icon doesn't appear at a recommended viewing angle.

Not recommended

Focus

It is very important to emphasize the meaning of the function or object by setting focus on the correct part of the icon, especially for icons that are composed of more than one object. You can set the focus by making an object within the icon heavier than the rest of the parts. In most cases, make the foremost object the heaviest element. Icons treated this way are balanced with the surrounding icons.

A page and pencil icon with no focus.

No focus

A page and pencil icon with recommended focus.

Recommended

A page and pencil icon with too much focus.

Too much focus

Level of detail

Icons should be as simple as possible. However, with the high resolution screens of modern smartphones, you can add detail to make the icons appear more recognizable, crafted, and professional.

Avoid adding detail for the sake of adding detail. Add detail where it makes sense and where it enhances the readability of the icon. A high density of detail can make an icon cluttered. Not enough detail might make the icon unrecognizable. The golden rule is to keep detail to a minimum without losing the characteristics of the icon.

A speedometer icon without enough detail.

Too little detail

A speedometer icon with the recommended amount of detail.

Recommended

A speedometer icon with too much detail.

Too much detail



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