The Importance of Iconography

  • by Ryan Phillips
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Colorful collage of icons

Have you ever given any thought to the little images of floppy disks and printers you see on your word processor? How about the street signs and symbols you see in train stations and airports, or the little visual instructions that surround you in your office or workplace?

The reality is that, even though these visuals surround us virtually all the time, few of us give them much thought. That doesn't mean they don't matter, though, or influence us in powerful ways.

In fact, iconography—the use of small icons and images—is an incredibly important part of design. The fact that most people don't notice iconography in an overt way only adds to its importance, since the impressions are subtle and powerful.

Here are a few things you should know about the importance of iconography in design:

Iconography creates a visual hierarchy

Because icons stand out to the eye, you can use them to draw a viewer’s attention from one part of the page to the next, almost like indicators on a roadmap.

You can use icons to highlight important info

Because of the way our minds work, along with the lessons we learn through our lives, we are naturally drawn to icons and give them increased importance. So, they are useful for making ideas and instructions stand out on a page or document.

Iconography enhances understanding

Because certain icons can be associated with commands, concepts, and ideas, including those—or "branding" your own—can be a great way to increase a viewer’s understanding of a situation, or about what you want from them.

You can convey a lot of information with a simple visual

The best thing about icons is that they are compact and very expressive. In other words, they don't take up a lot of space but can convey lots of information in a fraction of a second.

Icons are subtle but powerful and versatile tools that you and your design team can use to create impressions in a viewer’s mind. In the same way that the small symbols you see every day remind you of what you can or should do, icons spread throughout documents and web pages can be very powerful influencers.

Are you using iconography as effectively as you could be?

When you need a design and marketing team that understands the full range of design tools available—from the overt to the subtle—call SW Creatives at 301-891-0111.

See original eNewsletter.

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