Are you a Software company that requires Professional icons for your application, Website or Presentations? You might find this artcile helpful. It is not about criticizing others design work, but its about how properly designed Icons can prove better for your Software, Application, Website or Presentation. By going through this article, you will learn how easy it is to get a really professional look with your application by using any icons from 16×16 size to 256×256 size. Want to know how we can use these differnt sizes of icon real estate to your full quality advantage? Read More below…

1. Icons that consider your Need Factors and also Present Quality
In every Custom Professional Icon it is essential for them to be designed with certain facts in mind. Things like who would use these icons? Or the resolution and size of these icons, simplicity, complexity, perspective, style, colors and a 100 other design factors. There is a huge world to go to from a blank canvas to a quality professional icon design. It is quintessential that any icon designer should consider all these factors before starting an icon design.

2. Icons with Simplicity, Quality & Presentation
There are billions of icons and icon packages out there right now, that you can get for free or maybe $500/icon…! Even still a Developer or Programmer find it hard to get an icon they need. Why is that? Probably because these icons does not stand for what they need. Or maybe because the “mini-story” (metaphors) that these icons represent may have been too much of a story for them. There was a time when people made a decision to keep these icons simple, but as Microsoft’s Windows Vista has all these new sparkly congested looking icons, everyone else has chosen to go that route so that thier icons would have the current “wow” factor. It is okay to do that, as long as each icon within that design has enough room to communicate with every other icons next to it, and also to the user that this is what they stand for. This should be applicable for all sizes. You cannot have an icon that has a Shield,Business Man (User) and a Floppy Disk at 256×256, and just have a Shield, Circle Head and a Blue Square Box that is supposed to stand for a floppy at 16×16. There are icons that has neat professional Business men on 256×256, but as the size goes smaller,he starts loosing his tie, collars, and the Business man looks like hes at home when the size reaches 16×16. Icon designers has to keep this in mind that every details has to be kept alive even as the size goes down. Simplicity, Quality and Presentation of the icon is what makes a true icon pop out from the billions out there.

3. Icons that are Vector or Raster?
There is this constant debate about Vector Icons and Raster Icons… Well here is what I think. Unless you are using Adobe Flash (or any other Vector Rendering Application) in your application or website, It doesn’t really matter which software you use to design Icons or what format you save it to. In other words, you do not have a prime advantage over using a Vector Icon editor (such as Illustrator etc) or Raster editor (such as Photoshop, etc) to create the same icon. The end result is still going to be in .ICO, .JPG , .PNG or .BMP formats… which are all Raster. When it comes down to Raster, the only thing that defines the icon or any artwork are PIXELS. If these pixels are crisp within thier boundaries, then you have a perfect icon design that can possibly be clear at all resolutions. Certain icons advertise major designs on large resolutions, fail to maintain the quality of the icon as the sizes go down. How do you use 16 pixels of icon real estate to create beautiful crisp icons? One of my features in Photoshop is Grids and Snap to Grid. Use these two tools, and you can create the ultimate 16×16 icon or any size above that! Icons that are Optimized, Clear and Crisp are the best icons that can be used in any website or software.

4. Icons that Textual or Literal?
There are some icons that have literal texts in them to convey what the icon is for. Unless and otherwise the client explicitly asks for a certain text to appear within an icon, this should be avoided to the max. Although certain Microsoft Windows Vista icons do have textual descriptions in them, I believe they have tried to keep it minimal. Simple spaced lines can be used to represent text wherever necessary. There should be a clear balance between Abstract icon design and Literal Icon Design.

5. Icons that are consistent
Icons need to be consistent with other icons from the same collection and also the different sizes of the same icon. This can be with respect to Colors, Style, Perspective, Lighting and Shadows. Ofcourse each icon should match when they are placed side by side next to each other. Even if there are multiple designers that worked on a specific collection, it should not be evident that each of them applied thier own style. It should look like they came out one designer, one style.

These are only a few pointers to be kept in mind before investing some major bucks on icon collections or icon designs. There are alot more points that can be used to pick out the quality designers from the hay stack of Icon designers out there. Even if everyone advertises their large sizes on the websites, make sure you have seen enough previews of what thier smaller sizes would look like, before you commit to that collection.

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