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.
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.
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.