Why icons are not very good for user experience

Icons are a common element in user interfaces, designed to provide a visual representation of a specific action or concept. While they can be useful for quickly conveying information, the use of icons can also have negative effects on user experience.

One of the main issues with icons is their potential for ambiguity. Icons are often designed to be minimalist and simple, which can make them difficult to interpret or understand. For example, an icon with a circle and a downward-facing arrow may be interpreted as a “save” or “download” action by some users, while others may see it as a “delete” or “cancel” action. This lack of clarity can lead to confusion and frustration for users, and can even result in errors or accidents.

Additionally, icons are often used as a shorthand for text labels, which can be problematic for users with visual impairments or limited literacy. While text labels can be easily read and understood by screen readers or translated into different languages, icons are typically not accessible in the same way. This can create barriers for users who rely on assistive technologies or who may not have the same level of familiarity with icons.

Furthermore, icons can be limiting in terms of flexibility and scalability. As user interfaces evolve and new actions or concepts are introduced, icons may need to be updated or added to reflect these changes. This can become a significant undertaking, especially if a user interface relies heavily on icons. In contrast, text labels can be easily updated or modified without requiring major design changes or rework.

In summary, the use of icons in user interfaces can have negative effects on user experience, including ambiguity, inaccessibility, and inflexibility. While icons can be useful for quickly conveying information, they should be used carefully and in combination with other design elements, such as text labels, to provide a clear and intuitive user experience.

The above article was written entirely by ChatGPT, the recently-released AI chatbot. It’s a very good answer. The title is the prompt used.