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03 August 2015

How Icons and Pictograms Can Help Get Your Message Across

by James Cottis

Icons and pictograms bring a level of visual language to your content, which can really help your audience understand your message more clearly. In a world where people want to get information as quickly as possible, these can really help you to provide just that.

What are icons and pictograms?

These are simplified representations of an object, word or phrase. It’s important to ensure that it will be universally recognisable. If people can’t tell what it is, then they’re not going to understand what you’re trying to get across. For example, the universally recognised icon for online messages and emails, is an envelope. It’s simple and clearly represents the idea of mail, and messages.

Icons can also be used alongside a short snippet of text, to convey your message quickly and visually. This also helps users to understand the context, especially if the icon is one that’s not universally recognised.

Why use them?

Images have been a part of communication since the beginning, for example cave paintings and hieroglyphics. The way we use them hasn’t really changed, either. The intended outcome for those images used thousands of years ago, and the ones we use today in marketing and design is exactly the same: quick and effective communication. Icons can be an easy way to grab a user’s attention, and if you’re looking for the most direct route to communicate a known convention – these are the way to go.

With lots of new icons and pictograms appearing almost every day, it means that the viewer will have to familiarise themselves with a much wider range. So, unless you’re communicating something that’s pretty obvious, you could end up confusing your users. If people don’t recognise the image, the convention being communicated, or the context, then you stand very little chance of actually having your message understood.

If you want your pictograms to be successful, you need to ensure that they are clearly understood, so try and test them out before putting them live to the public.

If you think using icons and pictograms could help you deliver your message better, then get in touch today to discuss what we can do for you.

Tags: Business | Design |

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