Labyrinth through a history of Digital Iconography: From 1980s to 2010s | Part 4

Icons have always been found highly useful in limited digital environments and in diagrams, maps and other forms of visual communication. As a visual shorthand, it can label, inform, and aid navigation quickly and effectively in minimal space. At Think Design, we stepped back to discover how icons have been used from the earliest desktop days – in a pursuit to build on our current understanding, looking to appreciate and learn from the past, and look at the future informed by a lens of insights.

Stephen DickensTushar Krishnan & Hari Nallan

At Think Design, we created 4 separate infographics, each one providing a brief introduction into the iconography of each respective decade; 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. Let us look at how the last decade played a role in transforming how iconography has evolved until today.

Part 4/4

The 2010s – Flattened graphics setting a new standard

By the 2010s, the phase of the world’s fascination with semi-realistic icons had reached a saturation point. This is when Windows phone 7 became a pioneer in introducing flat icons – creating a flurry of flatenization of icons across digital devices. Now subtle gradients and transparencies started being appreciated as it reduced the visual noise in an already minimal space of mobile phones and allowed easy navigation through the touchscreen. Another major impact on iconography happened in 2014 when Google’s Material Design set some rules to create a unified visual approach which brought consistency to work with all devices and platforms, improving the overall user experience.

As history shows the evolution of iconography across different ages, so is the future heralding a plethora of possibilities for us.  Earcons and auditory icons are examples of how sound can be a powerful possibility that can add value to icons as humans can process sound quicker. Maturing technologies and products are likewise indicating a future of multi-dimensional experience.
Stephen Dickens

Stephen Dickens

User Experience Strategist for Think Design at their newly established Denver, Colorado studio. Stephen draws upon his 10+ years of cognitive behavioral experience to understand and strategize how and why users experience the digital and physical world.

Tushar Krishnan

Tushar Krishnan

Senior User Experience Designer at Think Design, Tushar is a graduate from the Parsons School of Design. He is driven towards creating intuitive and engaging experiences and works in the areas of Experience Design, Systems Design, Information Design and Game Design.

Hari Nallan

Hari Nallan

Founder and CEO of Think Design, a Design leader, Speaker and Educator. With a master's from NID and in the capacity of a founder, Hari has influenced, led and delivered several experience driven transformations across industries. As the CEO of Think Design, Hari is the architect of Think Design's approach and design centered practices and the company's strategic initiatives.

 

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