From astronauts to arrows: The FS Aldrin Icons

Phil Garnham Knowledge share
5 May’16

Our new radiant typeface FS Aldrin is packaged along with it’s very own unique icon font. FS Aldrin Icons is a suite of 268 symbols that extend the FS Aldrin design language, covering a range of commonly used interface applications and themes from e-commerce to weather. The Icons font serves as a solid starting point for further exploration, development and extension as a bespoke brand icon set for your projects. It is available as part of the full font family or can be licensed as an individual font file.

User Interface icons were born in the early era of computer graphics, initially developed by Xerox under the presumption that they would facilitate human-computer interaction. Over the years UI icons have become a hugely important aspect of visual communication, specifically in small digital environments where space is restrictive and the speed by which you communicate is key. You only have to look at social media apps such as Twitter and Facebook to recognise the important space saving ability that icons offer over text. With this in mind the simplification and precise focus of interface controls and navigators is hugely important.

The main benefits of using UI Icons are:

  • Icons can be quickly scanned and interpreted and overtime become synonymous with a specific site or app experience.
  • They can save space on smaller screens and devices, creating a more harmonious and considered appearance.
  • Icons create clear tappable targets, which in turn means intuitive actions from the app or site user.
  • Icons can make systems appear more accessible to a new user, which has the effect of increasing the perceived ease of use of a site or app.

It’s important to note that a positional consistency in the presentation of any icon on the screen has a strong effect on usability as a site or app user learns how to interact with them and the surrounding interface.

The FS Aldrin Icons were designed holistically so that they work together as a set and as such are optically weighted to match the weight of FS Aldrin Regular. The effect is that the mid-range font weights of Regular and Medium can work with the icon set harmoniously across a broad range of applications (the mid-weighted fonts are the most versatile whereas the lighter and bolder fonts have a more characterful display nature). 

I felt that it was very important to create a strong aesthetic bond within each group of icons to ensure that any associated icons would work together within context. The FS Aldrin typeface is a distinctive rounded font and the features and tone of the FS Aldrin fonts are echoed within the design of the icons. When used together both typeface and icons create a strong identity and design synergy, both sympathetic to each other, they have the same DNA creating a strong brand or interface tone of voice.

The level of detail and balance of each icon design was also hugely important. Detailed elements in icons can be confusing and inevitably fail to scale down well. Retaining a pure structure and form to each icon was of the utmost importance. It has been reported that prioritising individuality over familiarity does not make for intuitive interfaces.

There has been much research into the ambiguity of the ‘classic’ icon forms used today. For instance, the classic ‘Save’ icon expressed as a floppy disk or ‘Search/Zoom’ expressed as a magnifying glass are some examples whereby questions have been raised as to their efficiency at communicating. I mean who uses a floppy disk today? Thankfully, research studies have confirmed that younger folk are ‘not blind to tech’, they understand the conceptual meaning of outdated tech. It’s also common for design context to enforce a clearer meaning. 

Born out of FS Aldrin’s astronomical theme and playful nature is also a special collection of icons with the font known as the Buzz Specials! Rockets, shuttles and lunar modules are hidden away in the fonts glyph palette and OpenType features for anyone that is looking for some astronomical icon fun! 

(Hint: if you type the word BUZZ with ligatures enabled, an astronaut appears).

Read more about FS Aldrin in this blog post.

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