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What are Icons?

Question What are Icons?

What exactly are icons? People use the term Icon loosely and often misuse it referring to applications and links themselves with no overlaying image. An Icon simply defined is an Image or Graphic that represents something. That something could be a web page, link, application, device, function, or category. It can be associative as well and this can be exemplified by the common Windows icon usage. When you decide that you want an app like Windows Media or VLC Media Player to be the primary utility that handles audio or movie files then Windows will change the icon on those filetypes to the icon for Windows or VLC Media player. It helps you associate that file extension with the app so you can better understand in a glance what type of file a file it.

Clean and crisp icons are hard to find nowadays. As a web developer and designer I am always in need of proper images for things like Twitter and Facebook Icons as well as other more functional imagry like phone’s for phone numbers, link images for links, download images for download buttons etc. Finding an Icon Database online is much easier than downloading one and attempting to organize it into searchable and sortable content on every computer and device you own. Not to mention the image scaling required to get the image the right size.

So what do we suggest? We suggest using an icon library that is stored in the cloud. Why would you waste your hard drive space, your time, and go through the stress of having to re-size thousands of images. What you need is the ability to quickly find not only the image you are looking for, but also the proper image size.

Are you a graphic designer? Take a look around at every product you find in any store on every shelf. They all have one thing in common nowadays... Facebook and Twitter Icons. Everyone has a twitter and facebook page it’s just part of protocol now. If you are their designer you can choose to use the standard icons/logos or you can stand out by finding one that better suits your products color scheme, mood, and theme. Having a unique icon that matches your item or demographic is worth the little bit of extra effort, and it will add to your companies creditability.

iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberrys, and other mobile device icons are the most important because of screen “acreage”. When you are talking mobile devices you are usually speaking about a device with limited screen area or lower resolution. Smaller areas benefit from the use of icons in that they can display an icon only and not both an icon and the text describing the link. This can free up valuable space for other icons/apps. The end result is better use of space and an altogether better end user experience.

Icon usage in kids apps is also very important since many young children can not yet read, but they understand the simplicity of an image descriptor such as that created by a well designed icon.

Thanks for reading.



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