Lakeland web designLook across the internet, in your emails, social media and blog sites. Everywhere you look, there are icons that connect us to another website or another landing page. These icons are as ubiquitous as the social media pages we love to stalk.But human beings have used icons and signages way before the advent of web and user experience. We see road and traffic signs everywhere, as well as logos of our favorite brands.

We recognize the signs and icons based on their universally accepted messages. We feel the same way with colors–red is for stop, green is for go and yellow is for slow down.

But icons need two things to be truly effective: widespread recognition and a single recognized message. In terms of the digital world, though, using icons become a serious challenge because of inconsistent usage.

Widespread and universal acceptance of an icon’s meaning can be tough. Unless you’re using an icon that is widely familiar, you should be careful about putting random icons on your website. If a website visitor cannot recognize the icon, he/she will interpret it based on his/her past, experiences, lifestyle, cultural heritage, etc.

This can work for you. Then again, it may not and you’ll certainly create a marketing blunder, if that’s the case.

If you’re working for an international audience, the kinds of icons you use will be subjected to interpretation based on culture, politics and traditions. It will suffer the same thing language has been suffering from this whole time–misinterpretation. For example, the eye icon means “view” in the digital world. But in some parts of the world, the eye icon is considered bad luck or evil.

In some cases, a company is able to develop the meaning of a certain icon throughout time. Your customers can understand what you mean by a particular icon. That is perfectly alright, and you should be careful about changing the meaning behind the icons you develop. That will make for a bad strategy on your part.

In the end, if you cannot convey the proper message through an icon, it might be better if you use the words instead. Your primary goal in your Lakeland web design should not to confuse your audience, and to always be clear about your message.

If using icons will only confuse your audience and will take away the message of your brand, then this might not be the best style for your site.