Infographic: The rise of minimal app icons

Posted on by Guy Cookson

app logos

The infographic above comes from Wired, which has a short but interesting piece on the changing state of app icon design:

What’s interesting is how minimal, even abstract, many of these icons have become. Hyper-literal metaphor used to be the cardinal rule of icon design. In the 80s, the icon for the trash folder on a Macintosh was … a trash can. Fast forward a couple decades and Airbnb’s app icon from 2010 was … a suitcase! With destination stickers on it!

Designers call this form of literalism “skeuomorphism.” It started falling out of favor a few years ago, as the visual cues began to feel hand hold-y. Like, remember the “bubble effect” that used to delineate buttons on a touchscreen? Nobody needs it anymore. You know how and when to press, tap, and swipe.

Skeuomorphism has also become less important for logos. The past few years have seen designers eschew realistic visual cues—the silly face on the Snapchat logo, the unabashed camera-ness of the Instagram icon—in favor of more minimal styles. “With wearables and things like that, they have to work on tinier and tinier scales,” says Howard Belk, co-CEO of design agency Siegel + Gale. “Skeuomorphism starts to break down when it gets that small.”

And don’t confuse “minimal” with “flat.” It’s true, a lot of companies pancaked their app icons during The Great Changeover of 2013 (thanks iOS7!); but more recently, some of the most interesting work in mobile interface design has made clever and considered use of the z-axis. Just look at Material Design; Google’s innovative visual design language is beautiful, functional—and modeled after layered sheets of construction paper.

See the full article here.

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