Recognition vs. Recall


1, Sep 2019. 11:05am

Do you wonder why many software platforms use the same icons for navigation? Like the hamburger icon for mobile menu navigation, or the thumbs up icon for a Like?

It’s not that they are ripping off their competitors to save time, or because they lack creative talent (although that’s the case for LinkedIn’s new Reaction icons), it’s because recognition is an important aspect to user interface design.

When icons are recognizable, it’s easier to recall the context of how they are used. If new icons were created for similar actions, we’d have to store each icon in our memory, which complicates recognition and recall.

And we know that complication is a nemesis to convenience, which leads to improved user experience.

So, if you’re designing a software platform, save your users effort, use icons that are recognizable.

But please, no ClipArt icons.