Recently, SmashingMagazine.com published an article by Suzanne Scacca that examines web trends that may be time to retire. While several aren’t applicable to most nonprofit arts orgs, there is one you should consider: unnecessary icon labels.
Inside the design world, navigation icons are a great way to make clients feel like they are getting something super personal but in reality, it’s just billable filler that is easy to produce. Scacca uses a Geico app design for some of her examples.
The icons aren’t all that easy to decipher (except the tow truck) and I’m just not sure they add any value here. Really, if you can’t think of anything better than putting a letter “C” on a clipboard to represent claims, maybe icons aren’t needed after all?
It’s that last one that really stuck the landing. I can think of a dozen examples across performing arts websites that fall victim to the same approach, such as an orchestra site that has a custom icon of a treble clef set into a calendar icon for their event calendar navigation menu item.
Scacca goes on to include some examples where custom icons are useful and she also points out areas where no icons alongside nav items with icons work best.