Top-Rated icon design trends: How to attract audience with your icon

  • Por Luciano Larrossa
  • 25/05/2021 às 16:36 atualizado em (25/05/2021 às 16:36)
  • 5min de leitura

Icons creation is a totally separate branch of design taught and learned apart from other fields of this industry. From the sidelines, one will suggest that they are simply small pictures usually used as logos for companies, websites, or apps. However, in reality, icons are rarely created one-by-one and rather often — in groups, which, in their turn, are called families. Famous platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter use such families of icons in their UI and design to maintain integrity across their websites, applications, and other products.

Actually, in case your business is smaller than Facebook (i.e., your company’s market cap is less than $853 billion), you can use a rather simple solution by picking a completed template design or creating one by yourself using online icon maker. Regardless of your choice, you have to pay close attention to this issue, as your icon is the first instance of interaction with your company or products for your audience.

What Makes an Icon Look Catchy?

design icons

When working on a project, designers strive to make their icons unique to stand out in a huge array of pictograms, which all aim to catch the potential user’s eye. While they can use a specific style or mix a number of them together, they can also work on parameters like shape, weight, thickness, and some others. Though, speaking of quality design, there is a list of common rules professionals shouldn’t break. Great icons have to follow the principles of:

  • Clarity
  • Readability
  • Alignment
  • Brevity
  • Consistency
  • Personality
  • Ease of Use

When the industry heads towards a specific tendency like retro-futurism, surrealism, abstractionism, or something completely different, these trends also influence the approach that designers use in creating icons. Yet, the guidelines, at all times, include the ideas mentioned before and simply receive some amendments. You’ll get the idea further in the article.

Trending Features in Icon Design

The 3D Direction

how to design icons

By adding shaders to elements, artists became capable of expanding a message delivered through an icon. It also allows them to provide a new meaning to pictures, create a direction for their compositions, or even implement some sort of motion. Here, we don’t refer to traditional 3D effects that you might have seen in movies, animated films, or cartoons. Some techniques used in such products are applicable for icon design too; however, the so-called depth is more appropriate in modern solutions.

The latter is a better fit for complex pictures, which are supposed to interact with other layout elements. With this design approach, developers apply modifications like shadowing or, in some cases, play with graphical perspectives. Actually, this new fashion can be placed somewhere between pure, classic 3D and the flat design method.

3D-like icons remain extremely good-looking for many years, as they truly suit attributes that represent a brand, such as logos.

Back to the Roots

Like many other phenomena in our lives, the market of design is also cyclical. After years of popularity of multidimensional and cluttered artworks, many enthusiasts returned to rather plain and simple layouts.

The great aspect of flat icons is that they are universal in their application and elegantly fit in various environments. Also, it is an excellent way to renew an already existing concept, which we have seen many times with companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google when they updated their operating systems. In almost all cases, this transition was a very successful move.

Unlike artistic approaches used in the 2000s, the implementation of flat pictures doesn’t aim to bring real-life objects into the virtual world. More likely, they are portraying some abstract ideas and meanings, which can be easily read by regular users regardless of their age or taste.

Flat design also works perfectly in combination with some other modern trends like the use of duotone or monotone palettes, geometric shapes, or cartoonish styles.  

Minimalistic Anthropomorphism

Transforming objects in a way that we see human traits in them has been there throughout the whole history of arts. Also, it happened to be highly in-demand to picture emotions that people feel with the purpose of sharing our concerns directly during communication. Obviously, we refer to emojis, which are used all over the world on thousands of platforms.

While there are more than 3,500 emoji icons available for us today, the popularity of anthropomorphic non-human beings and objects is also increasing. Making food, furniture, vehicles, and other non-living things smile, laugh, or express other emotions feels cute.

This is an incredible marketing tool, which strongly influences our mood and behavior. It is something built-in into our psychology; therefore, it works even better.


Whether you are developing an app, starting a company, or conducting a rebranding, you shouldn’t neglect to create a clear and action-calling icon family, as it will directly affect the performance of your project. Its potential is almost unlimited since icons can attract thousands, if not millions, new customers.