Last year, I tried to switch to a newer icon collection. We researched hundreds of different collections and chose one by Axialis. We thought our requirements were this:
- Looks nice and modern
- Lots of variety in shapes
- Big sizes (up to 256)
We then went about converting the icons in the system to Axialis. Unfortunately, everything went wrong. Here are some of the negatives we experienced:
- Small Size: 256px is just not big enough. For anything in print, you need 512px minimum.
- No Vector Type: Modern devices are getting smaller, but their resolution is skyrocketing. The Chromebook I recently purchased has 1920×1080. The new Dell has a whopping 3200×1800. This means that we are moving into a world where user interface has got to be vector based. Specifically, icons should be SVG and not PNG. They are much smaller and will look much sharper on high resolution screens. Axialis only had PNG. Tracing the PNG to SVG proved incredibly difficult.
- No search engine: Finding the right icon is an important part of design. With Axialis, we had to scroll through thousands of icons to find just the right one.
- Terrible naming: Making the search problem even worse was that the files were not named sensibly. They have duplicate names with different looks. All of the icons were in different folders, which made finding them even harder.
- Badges: You had to use the badges they had or open up Photoshop and manipulate them yourself. This led to inconsistency amongst the team.
Our Hero: IconExperience
IconExperience is the one collection that is designed for a team of designers to work together. They have the complete set of our requirements:
- Large (512) sizes
- Various sizes
- Color Options
- Built in Search
- Toolkit for badges
- SVG versions
Additionally, they have multiple different looks in many color combinations. We chose the O-Collection.
The bottom line is that “looking good” is not as critical as it seems on first blush. By focusing exclusively on the user, you may be creating a horrible working environment for the designer. Imagine the quality of code engineers produce. Now give them notepad instead of their preferred editor. The quality is bound to go down. Tools matter.
O-Collection by IconExperience gets it. I wish other icon makers would follow suit.