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    Icon Trends in App Development: What’s Hot and What’s Not

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    As a UI designer, staying on top of the trends is crucial. After all, the aesthetic of your app can make or break its success. And when it comes to app aesthetics, icons take center stage. They’re the small, simple, yet powerful elements that guide users through your application. So, let’s dive into the pool’s deep end and look at the hottest and not-so-hot trends in app icon design.

    What’s Hot

    3D Icons

    Icons by Icons8 in Icons 3D Fluency style

    When it comes to storytelling power, 3D icons pack a punch. For instance, a metallic wrench icon for adjustments speaks volumes about the function, creating an immediate connection with real-life objects. However, the vibrance of 3D could be overpowering, so the trick is to use it sparingly. With its flexible rendering, textures, and detail levels, this style caters to diverse sectors like e-commerce, retail, healthcare, and more.

    Hand-drawn Icons

    Icons by Icons8 in Matisse style

    This trend resonates with brands seeking a unique style. Little imperfections or unfinished touches in the hand-drawn icons add a dash of spontaneity and individuality, making your app stand out. You can tailor the style, line thickness, shapes, and colors to align with your product’s personality.

    Thick Icons

    Icons by Icons8 in Puffy style

    Stepping away from the dominance of thin-line icons, the trend of thick icons is emerging. These are easy to spot and tap, providing a refreshing change. Designers must maintain line thickness and size consistency to avoid disrupting the visual balance.

    2D Icons with Depth

    Icons by Icons8 in Arcade style

    The art of creating depth and volume in two-dimensional spaces is gaining momentum. This trend involves applying falling shadows and using sharp shapes to create an illusion of depth, giving the flat 2D icons a 3D effect. However, this style does require more space.

    Icons with Color Shapes

    Icons by Icons8 in Pulsar Color style

    This is a clever way to add a pop of creativity to your line icons. Adding color shapes like circles or squares can make the icons more noticeable. The trick is to find the right color combinations and figure size to maintain balance.

    Abstract Icons

    Abstract icon set by Icons8

    Abstract icons add an element of fantasy to the UI/UX design. Instead of copying real objects, designers can use abstract shapes that do not appear too alien. Choosing the brand’s color palette can make the icons more cohesive.

    Flat Icons

    Icons by Icons8 in Flat Round style

    As evergreen as a design trend can be, flat icons continue to rule the roost. Their simplicity and versatility make them blend well with other styles and trends and work well even in smaller sizes.

    Icons with Muted Colors

    Icons by Icons8 in Clouds style

    Muted tones, synonymous with tranquility and beauty, are being embraced by industries like skincare and food. Natural colors like pale blue, green, brown, etc., don’t overwhelm the users, encouraging them to explore more on the website or app.

    Gradient Icons

    Icons by Icons8 in Nolan style

    Gradient has revolutionized web and app designs, and it’s here to stay. With a plethora of color combinations and forms, this style offers limitless creativity. Major enterprises like Adobe and Instagram have adopted this trend.

    While staying current with trends is essential, mindlessly chasing all trends could be a recipe for disaster. Instead, choose trends aligning with your business, objectives, and target audience. Most importantly, always test your new designs.

    What’s Not

    Complex Designs 

    As we mentioned, minimalism is the new black. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that complex designs are out. Icons overloaded with details can be distracting and confuse the user. The goal is to communicate function in seconds, and a simpler design accomplishes this more effectively.

    Skeuomorphism 

    While there’s a time and a place for skeuomorphism, its popularity has dipped significantly in recent years. Modern UI design leans towards abstract and simplified representations rather than hyper-realistic depictions.

    Random Color Palettes

    Random or overly bright color palettes are on the decline. Users crave a unified, visually pleasing experience; cohesive, muted color palettes can achieve just that.

    Wrapping Up

    Trends come and go. As a UI designer, keeping an eye on these shifts is crucial. But remember, while it’s important to understand what’s hot and what’s not, the ultimate goal should always be to create a user-friendly and visually pleasing app experience. No matter how trendy an icon design is, if it’s not usable or doesn’t fit within the overall aesthetic of your app, it could be more of a hindrance than a help. So, keep these trends in mind, but always design with your specific users at heart. Happy designing!

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