The Pros and Cons of Using Icons on Websites
Icons are used everywhere, some we love and some we loathe e.g. no parking here. None the less, icons have a visual advantage when it comes to websites. You will find icons on popular social media platforms, call to actions on websites and one of the more modern ways to show icons. On website menus.
Using icons can support words to allow them to be taken in easier. In some cases, icons can replace words completely when necessary.
Icons have been around since the dawn of man; many religions will use an icon to symbolise what religion it is. For example, the cross for Christianity. But as times and technologies changes, icons can be utilised on the web.
Overall, using icons on your website can improve the aesthetics massively. They offer a visual aid for consumers who may react better to seeing vector images as opposed to just plain text. Which in turn can mean people may spend longer on your website and hopefully use your services/buy your products.
Another pro is navigation on websites. The standard old fashioned of words is now slowly being evolved. The use of icons in menus can improve the navigation around your website. For example, companies now use a home icon instead of the word ‘Home’. This doesn’t just make the website navigation bar look better but it also saves the limited space you may have.
It doesn’t just stop at home icons though; the icons can support the menu items. The contact us menu can be supported by a phone icon or about us an information icon. The possibilities are endless in what you can do, keeping it subtle is also the main aspect of using icons. Overloading your menu can have a negative effect and look silly.
A major disadvantage of using icons is you may not get the message across exactly how you want it. There are millions of icons available to use from Font Awesome through to Flat Icon. But some business has services that are so unique that finding icons can be a struggle, so they use the next best thing that looks like it.
As mentioned in the last paragraph in the pros section, you may be subject to overloading the icons on your website. Especially on the menu. If you add too many icons in the menu it can become overloaded and become difficult to read. This applies by having too many icons on your homepage. Less is more.
Finally, icons may have a negative effect. The connotations of some icons that the designer/business feels are correct for them, may be completely different in another culture. This would apply when you are developing a website on an international scale
To conclude, icons are a great way to improve the aesthetics of a website and show you are more than just a standard business, you go that extra mile for the user. The use of icons on websites depends on whether it is applicable to that website. Some industries suit different designs if you feel you would benefit from using icons on a website then go ahead, just don’t overdo it.