Icon Design


Icons are pictorial representations of functions and objects. They convey meaning that users perceive almost instantaneously and are an important part of a program's visual identity.

Well-designed icons strongly impact users' overall impression of the design. Consistent use of icons also improves usability by making programs, objects, and actions easier to identify and learn.

General Guidelines

  • Use icons from the system icon theme whenever possible. Avoid using custom icons. New icons should be added to an icon theme.
  • Design icons with a small number of metaphors that are understandable independent of language and culture. Apply metaphors only once (e.g. don't use a brush twice for different actions).
  • Simplify, but don't go overboard.
  • Avoid using text in icon designs; it cannot be localized and tends to look bad at small sizes.
  • Many icons come in multiple sizes. Each version should be visually optimized and pixel-perfect for its particular size. Larger sizes offer more opportunity for detail and visual pizazz, while smaller version should be stripped of everything not absolutely necessary.