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Discussion on: No Icon Web Design

aurelkurtula profile image
aurel kurtula

Why not have both? Icons and text?

I think, at minimum icons are just eye-candy and make the site more pleasing.

Having said that, your pages doesn't seem to need icons! The only icons that I'd imagine you'd have is here

Of course there might be designs out there that totally remove the link name after the icon, but you wouldn't usually.

So, if done right, it's just nice eye-candy in that case

But then there are pretty established icon sets that, whether individuals like it or not, have become part of our digital language.

For example the bell icon for notifications. I'm willing to bet anyone that doesn't understand the bell icon (by now) will equally need to explore the feature if it was called "notification". Is it notifications from admin, or users reaction? The only reason we know is notifications from other users is not the icon or the word but the pattern: You go to, quora, github, facebook, twitter, and that bell (or that word) does the same thing. Tell my grandma that that button gives her notifications and she'd still not know what they are However, I bet she'll have a better instinctive idea upon seeing the bell, though granted, with her other icons might not always make sense: like what on earth does that unicorn do :)

I believe your site looks great (homepage doesn't scroll!! - I'm on a mac, chrome) but it would be extra nice with icons!

I like the idea of flipping the phrase on his head and saying "a word is worth a thousand images", not sure it holds though.

megazear7 profile image
megazear7 Author

A lot of good points, and I think the idea of having both is the real key. Icons for the ability to quickly know what it does and to develop a common language like you said, and a word to remove ambiguity. Certainly long lists of icons can be overwhelming, but many icons are so universal that at this point that there is not much of a reason to try to do it any other way.

The no icon route has been something of a curiosity, and it could be a way to offer something unique that stands out. It also might be a good way to force thoughtful design and smart use of space. I go back to the menu example, I could have added an icon sense it is something of a default design choice, but using the page title and then make it obvious that it is the source of site navigation I have achieved two things and added less design clutter.

I'm wandering if there are other ways to do the same thing (more functionality with less design clutter) by at least giving a little bit of resistance to the default icon choices and asking the question, "Is there something else already in the design that can serve this purpose?"