Designing an icon can be tricky as it is very important to balance good design and color with clarity. An icon, no matter how artistically designed will lose its value if it does not communicate to the viewer.
Effective icon designs
1. Create a theme: Although it is important for icons to stand out from each other, it is important to include a common design element. These elements can be based on color, perspective, size or light and shade.
2. Keep it simple: The function of an icon is clearest when the least number of elements are used in the design. Adding too many elements or trying to make the icon look realistic might make it too complicated to understand thereby defeating the purpose.
3. Consistency in shadows, light and reflection: Ensure that all the icons in the group are consistent with each other. If the light is acting from a specific direction, use the same direction for all other icons and add shadows and reflections accordingly. Use a simple perspective and ensure that all icons are drawn from the same angle.
Mistakes to avoid
1. Ambiguous and disarrayed designs: The efforts to create a set of icons that follow a theme may go waste if the icons look too similar. This will confuse the viewer and won’t serve the purpose. Similarly, if icons are too different from each other, the output will not be aesthetically pleasing and can be off-putting.
2. Cluttered icons: Adding too many elements or unnecessary design in the icon can confuse and irritate the viewer. The icon should be equally clear when resized. As icons are usually very small in size, it is important to keep it clean and easily understandable.
3. Unclear metaphors: While taking the creative approach to icon designing could get you great results; they may not always be as effective. Ensure that the designs you choose for icons are universally recognizable.