In modern website design, icons play an important part. Really, even though it’s only using social media icons in the footer, you will be hard pressed to find a website that doesn’t use icons in one way or another. On your website, icons can serve a variety of purposes, including
Replace Material for Text
Replacing text content is the most common use of icons in web design. This is mostly done with buttons or links of some kind. An example of this trend is the aforementioned social media symbol. An icon with the Facebook logo is used instead of text that reads something like’ Visit our Facebook page.’ You can also perform this text substitution in the navigation menus. A common design therapy, particularly in application design and for responsive websites, is to use icons in place of buttons with longer text.
You must be aware of clarity and careful not to overdo it when using icons to replace text. It can be incredibly beneficial to use icons instead of text when you look to create a simpler overall interface and a streamlined user experience, but if the context behind your icons is vague or if you go overboard with how you use those icons, it will easily remove any advantages you hoped to realise.
Save up Room
You will eventually save room in your template by substituting text content for icons. For the small screen versions of responsive websites, this is a very appealing option. When room is at a premium on those small screens, one way that you can optimise the space you have available to you is to use a small icon for menu items or to highlight other acts.
Communicate amid differences in language
We see symbols used all the time in the real world. Icons can break down language barriers and express context despite variations in language, from road signs to the signage used for restrooms. For digital interfaces, this same advantage will apply, but once again, you must ensure that the icons are transparent and that the context behind them is obvious. Not all analogies function for each language, so you should be careful about the icons you are using, especially if they are on the site for key acts.
Accentuate this text
Icons are not used to replace text in some situations, but are simply meant to add value to a site’s text. When demonstrating a multi-step process or as a spotlight for some features or functionality, this can be particularly helpful. On About.com, a clear instance of this can be seen here. You can see a broad image used for the featured article on the main page of this web design section. You will find the word “Share” at the bottom of that image, along with an arrow icon. You can share the article on social media with this button, and the feature is displayed as both a text label and an accompanying icon. You can see the icon used on its own elsewhere on that page, which is an example of the “replace text content” argument discussed earlier in this article.
Add Fun to Others
Another way it is possible to use icons is to add some fun to the design of a web. Illustrated elements, depending on how they are used, may bring a sense of whimsy to an interface. Not every design, of course, would allow “fun” to be added, but you will be surprised to be able to use a sense of fun and delight, and the benefits of taking this approach are important. After all, a delightful experience is always a memorable one, and it is something all websites are happy to do to construct memorable experiences.
How to Incorporate Icons
There are a variety of ways that your website can incorporate icons. This include the
- Inline Images- You can add image files such as JPG, GIF, and PNG directly to the HTML code of your website.
- CSS background images can also be used to add icons to HTML elements, such as links. You can also “wipe out” the HTML text using CSS image replacement techniques and only leave the icon in place. To get all the icons you need for your template into one file, you can also use image sprites, thus reducing the amount of HTTP requests your site needs to make to load those icons.
- SVG: Inline images can also be applied to SVG-Scalable Vector Graphics, and SVG has the advantage of being scalable for various devices and screen sizes. Icons are ideally suited to be executed as SVG files, and those images are also very small in file size, which helps to boost a website’s overall performance.
- Icon Fonts-Font files consisting of icons can also be used on a website in some situations. These characters, like other font files, would be portable for a number of sizes, but it is always an unreasonable request to ask visitors to download an entire font file for just one or two icon glyphs. If you need to use a number of font icons, they may be an option, but if not, an SVG file or other image is probably a better choice.