Symbols are very important in user interfaces. Due to space constraints, the designer often needs to represent concepts with symbols. They usually act as visual or auditive shortcuts (I have a funny anecdote about an exclusively auditive interface, that I will soon talk about in a future post.)
Recently, I had to work on the conception and the development of a large software project with a very significant user interface containg a lot of forms and panels. In order to improve the usability of the system, I decided that I would need a nice but simple icon library to decorate the interface.
Being not a graphic designer, I have found a simple way to quickly create such an icon library.
1. Get a basic and sober icon frame. You can find plenty of them for free on Internet.
2. Open the frame image in your favorite image processor.
3. Add a new layer above the frame, then write a character with any symbolic font such as Webdings or Wingdings.
4. Add a shadow or some other effect. Et voilà ! In less than 10 minutes, you get a nice set of icons you can extend and vary ad infinitum.