Icon Psychology
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Icon Psychology: How Human Brain Reacts To Icons

Icon Psychology

Using graphical icons in the websites and other content is not a new thing for web developers and designers. There are a lot of different aspects through which one can express something through an icon using lesser space, lesser time and lesser text. It is always said that a picture is worth thousand words. Human brain reacts much faster and much easier to picture than text. This psychological aspect of human brain has given designers a whole new level to play at, with reducing text and using icons instead. Following are a few icons that you must have seen at least once somewhere and you all must be aware of what they actually mean.

Icon Psychology

Yes! You have got them all just right, it is WiFi, Network Coverage, Bluetooth, Inbox and Outbox respectively placed in order. No one had to give you a clue about any of these icons and you got them all by yourself. This is due to the amazing ability of human brain to connect the figures with phrases and make connections between figure and phrases to associate them forever, and whenever you come across the figure you may be able to connect it to the phrase and vice versa. This all comes together to designers where they manage to come up with icons to show some specific term, the icons may or may not relate to the actually wording of phrase however there must be some connection between the phrase and icon.


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As a designer you can utilize different techniques to come up with an icon that directly relates to the phrase you want it to relate. Some icons are so abundantly used, such as all five shown above, that one does not have to make many efforts in order to recognize these icons even after making a minor change in design however some are to be made up totally new and get them recognized as per the reference to the context, for that there are two ways discussed as bellow.

Usability Testing

Icon Psychology

Now if you had to decide which one of these icons represents your business contact the best, that would be according to your needs, for example if you are offering just phone call contact option then 1 and 2 can work out. If you are offering email or mail contact then 5 and for interactive communication number 4 seems right. Number 3 here does not related to any specific form of contact, it can be used for any one or all of the contact options very easily however to generate a familiarity you need to put text option of Contact Us with number 3 as still it does not fully take up all the aspects of contacting.

Phrase Generation

The phrase generation process to come up with an icon is opposite of the first one that we have discussed. In this process a designer would make several icons for the same phrase and without telling others, he may ask about the first phrase that comes in mind while seeing the icon, with a reference to the context, this may lead to designer to come up with the best and most explanatory icon for some specific phrase of feature.

Icon Psychology

Following all the given icons show the same Linking aspect but depending on the context and use which one relates the most to your reference can be tested through asking people about their first thought about each of the icons one by one and the one that relates with the real phrase the most, shall be used.

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Azhar Iqbal

Azhar Iqbal, with more than 15 years of programming experience, posses a firm command over system analysis, system design and custom software solutions. He envisioned utilizing his extensive experience and expertise to elucidate Telephony Applications Development and design more practical solutions. You can reach him through his website or LinkedIn Profile.

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