Optimization of UI Icons for Recognition

Optimizing UI Icons for Faster Recognition

Optimizing UI Icons is no cakewalk. Although they are small in size, UI icons (user interface icons) are essential for the effectiveness of any website or application. Their appearance is quite simple; however, it takes loads of effort and time to make them look like that.

Right from support, help, encourage, engage, simplify, clarity, to annoy and confuse, these icons are competent enough to do almost everything.

There is no denying the fact how important these UI icons are for app and web designers. Generally, these icons are images that entail a metaphoric and symbolic potential so as to become the navigation element that helps in the interaction process.

To put it in simple words...

These icons are visual symbols that represent some kind of thing, action, person, virtual or real aspects. In most of the cases, these icons support the text seamless, which makes them even more popular in the modern design domain.

So, what is it that makes these icons a worthwhile add-on to the interface instead of just being an attractive element?

Is it the aesthetic value or intuitiveness?

Or, does memorability makes them effective

The intercultural perception may even have its hand in the process, isn’t it?

While the importance of UI icons in design may comprise these characteristics, one of the most essential is the speed of recognition, or how quickly icons can be identified or discovered. In a simple and east app, the variance in speed of recognition might be refined enough to leave any noteworthy impact on the inclusive experience.

However, this may be quite different for an application that is a bit more complex. The iconography requirements here demand speed because every single second that is spent on the individual element processing can leave a substantial impact on the overall interface effectiveness.

Since it is important to create a memorable and beautiful icon, they should have the potential of faster recognition as well.

So, here are few simple steps that will help you make user experience icons faster in recognition.

1. Go for Minimalism:

To begin with, you must discover such an element that takes the app’s crux into account along with expressing the element in a simple manner. Therefore, remove every sort of excessive detail that isn’t important for your icons.

Undeniably, you would want your App Icons to look charming. So, to do that, you must not go overboard and fill up your icons with extra details, such as additional words, photographic details, 3D perspectives, and more. Such specifics may prevent people from keeping your icons in mind for a longer period of time.

Design your icon in such a way that it instantly catches the attention of users and helps them identify your app seamlessly.

For instance: Look at this one -

Optimize UI Icons - Go For Minimalism- Sun

An icon that is extremely simple. The characteristics of the icon make it even easier for people to relate this picture with the weather.

2. Testing Again Different Backgrounds:

It is extremely important that your UI Icons be decipherable against their backgrounds. Just by keeping your icon design minimal does not mean you are done with the process. Even if you think you are ready with everything, test and trial should be adopted.

Since foreseeing which background or wallpaper color people are going to choose for their home screen, it becomes your responsibility to make sure that your icons are recognizable with every color.

Make sure that the icons are not merging with the background. Also, ensure that the icons are not transparent but opaque as transparency can clutter the home screen. If possible, test icons on your phone by keeping the background dynamic.

3. Choose Signs Effectively:

According to latest study and research icons that have labels seem to be more effective than those that are vague and simple. However, for some particular reasons, you may have to utilize interface icons alone. In such a scenario, the entire focus is usually on the quick recognition of icons.

If you are stuck in this situation, try to select famous signs that may resemble with your concept rather than utilizing symbolic sign.

For instance: Look at these two images-

Optimize UI Icons - Calculator IconOptimize UI Icons - Button Icon

Although both of them are the icons used to denote a calculator, however, the left one is anticipated to get recognized faster than the right one, isn’t it?

And then, if the concept is crucial and you would want your audience and users to understand it quickly, you can try using a combination of colors and word labels that would be more impactful than just a mere icon. For instance: Look at the below-mentioned picture-

Optimize UI Icons - STOP Icon

Just by looking at this combination of word and color makes people understand that they have to stop. Being an easy and simple design, this road sign gets quick recognition across the world. So, even you can use such a tactic while developing your UI icons.

4. Being Consistent is the Key:

Last but not the least, consistency beholds importance of icons in design to a great extent. While playing along with designs is fun and crucial, as your users may find it boring to use monotonous designed app or website for long, being consistent is what you should strive for.

If you are designing icons for an application and you already have a website, make sure that you make adequate changes on the website and vice versa. It will, in a way, help your users to discover and relate your website and application with each other.


Almost all the time, user experience icons demand a curious, different, and creative mindset. To create a faster recognized UI icon, you must possess a holistic approach rather than emphasizing on one particular aspect or a metric for a longer period of time.

And then, sometimes, everything revolves around how good you are at making decisions. Although it might be difficult to use icons in every situation, however, whenever you use them, make sure that you demonstrate them to the best of your abilities so that they leave a wonderful impact on your users’ minds.

Use these aforementioned tips and let people recognize your efforts, time, work, and most importantly – Icons, instantly.

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