Are Responsive Icons The Next Big Thing in Web Design?
When I first learned of responsive icons, the first image on my head was an icon asking a website visitor where he can be directed. Responsive icons do not talk back, I am afraid, if you are not familiar with the phrase, it basically means that a website is designed with icons that can change size, color or position in reaction to a user’s action such as hovering and clicking. The idea of a responsive icon took the iconography business a big step further and has now been adopted as the best way to interact with website visitors without text.
The difference between responsive and traditional icons
Despite their popularity and efficiency, responsive icons have their downsides including file size issues and is likely to clutter a page if they are not used right or if the right icons are not used. When placing responsive icons on a website, the size of the web page does not dictate the size of the icon displayed, the icon is displayed the size it’s presented in. The size of the screen is insignificant, the size of the icon is all a web developer needs to be concerned with. The only difference between responsive icons and other types of icons is their quality and the level of detail. Responsive icons can be displayed as large as 500px X 500px meaning it has a lot of room for detail.
Why are responsive icons important?
The popularity and wide adoption of font icons, minimalistic, and Holo designs and the use of vector images instead of Bitmap in various areas of web design has seen the rise of faster, cleaner and more functional websites. Responsive icons just takes these a step further – with websites that are ‘alive’ to the user. The top benefit of using responsive icons in web design is that they offers the designer absolute control on where and how to use icons and because the icons come in different sizes, fitting them in a page is not as difficult.
Responsive icons are often optimized by the creators for different devices, different grid sizes and for use in different types of websites, it is essential that a web designer understands how and where to use different types of responsive icons to take full advantage of their benefits. Besides, responsive icons offer an aesthetic consistency on a website because the icons, unlike vector graphics, are image files and not mathematical elements.
There have been mixed reactions to the use of responsive icons on websites, with many designers choosing to revert to static icons because that’s what the users are used to and because they feel that a website visit is not just an event to gain information but an experience. Responsive icons could confuse users who can easily press on the wrong icons and because the designers have to create sets of icons every time, they can be costly, an expense that will be passed on to the client.
What do you think of responsive icons? As a web designer, do you use them on client websites?