Compelling yet uncomplicated, icons are the building blocks of graphic design. These instantly recognizable symbols that have been used since prehistoric times as visual storytellers have a complicated job in today’s world: they serve as a visual language, helping international understanding and breathing life into a brand. They must be simple, as to not distract from the logo, but complex enough to communicate a story in a compelling way that describes a complete idea or concept.
Scouring the Internet for the perfect icon to represent a brand can be a daunting process: a quick Google search for “star icon” yields approximately 1,730,000,000 results. This process is necessary when striving for design that lends itself to a simple user experience: because we live in a hyper visual culture where our senses are constantly stimulated, the clarity of a graphic icon has to be deliberate and unmistakable.
Even Foursquare has jumped on the iconography trend with their heavily visual redesign that debuted last Thursday.
Today we asked our in-house designers to pinpoint their favorite sites for finding high impact icons with a strong user comprehension rates that embody the brands our clients want to build. Here are three websites that help to simplify the design process:
The Noun Project’s mission is to share, celebrate and enhance the world’s visual language. Founded to fill a void in the design word, the site is a valuable resource for those looking to quickly and effortless find free, high quality and simple icons. With its streamlined user-friendly design, the site also serves as a chronicle of the international visual language, collecting, organizing and adding to the vault of highly recognizable visual symbols. All icons on The Noun Project are free.
Picons provides royalty-free vector icons for designers that are unique, simply beautiful and highly recognizable. The icons are compatible on several graphic formats and optimized for use in iPhone, iPad and Android apps. While the site has some freebees, most of the icons are sold in bundles of 60 to 600 icons.
The first search engine focused on icons, IconFinder provides icons to designers in an easy and efficient way. Users can refine the search, changing the background color and limiting the pixel size of the icons. The site boasts 162,764 icons and has an active tagging system that helps to inspire designers, giving them new ideas for what work the icon can successfully represent. All icons on IconFinder are free.