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Icon Design in 2024: The Key Trends

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Illustrations
February 21, 2024
6
min

Table of Contents

Icons are an integral part of UX design, but they come in a range of styles. Let's look ahead to what's some of the most important icon design trends for 2024!

The first set of icons was created in 1981 when computer scientist David Canfield and designer Norm Cox created a set of office supplies such as documents and folders for Xerox Star. 

Today we see icons everywhere, and our brain is trained to understand them without thinking. For example, when we see an icon illustrating an envelope, we know it represents an email, while triangle forms are for media, and locks and keys are associated with online security.

But while they may be simple, there are numerous icon styles to fit virtually any visual identity. Here are some of the hottest icon trends to expect in the coming year!

3D Icons

If you google what are the hot trends in icon design, there’s a solid chance this will be one of the first to pop up. 

3D design is extremely popular nowadays, and icons are no exception. This style is already used in web design quite a bit, but in 2024 it’s also one of the hottest app icon trends to expect.

Remember that 3D doesn’t have to be super intricate to be impressive. The amount of detail on this set of icons is quite minimal. And yet, with the subtle textured element and clever use of color, these 3D icons look both elegant and very trendy!

By Hoang Nugyen

Doodles

Modern icon design is often centered around being imperfect and unique. Icon design trends like hand-drawn and illustrated icons are one way to get that genuine look. However, if you want to achieve the same effect without compromising on a good user experience, consider doodle icons.

This simplified version of a hand-drawn icon has lots of charm, with curvy lines and imperfect angles. However, thanks to minimalist design the icons are also instantly recognizable. 

By Iconduck

Minimalistic

Minimalism is very popular in all areas of graphic design, and it’s been a prevalent icon trend for a while. Reducing the design to its essentials allows designers to create straightforward, memorable illustrations without relying too much on the color palette or the shape.

Simple icons are easy to understand, even though their representation isn't always literal, which gives designers the freedom to be creative.

Today, even the websites that featured complex designs and icons before are moving toward a more simplistic visual presentation of their content, reflecting on the icon design.

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Source: Mohammadreza Alidoost, Afshin Mohammadi and Arman Rokni

It used to be quite difficult to find good illustrations online, but there are now plenty of design tools and libraries that offer great illustrations, often at a small price or completely free. One such place is our vast free illustration gallery which we regularly update with new designs!

Circular

In nature and design, the circle is the first, simplest, and most perfect geometrical shape. From icons with a flat design in a circle to three-dimensional spheres, this type of icon can establish just the right feel for users, and designers are more and more inclined to use them.

The tricky part about the circular icon design is that sometimes circles aren't getting along perfectly with the other shapes that populate the design, such as app icons which tend to be square.

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Credit: Anastasia Rubtsova

Illustrated

In the past, icons have been relatively simple most of the time. As the screen resolution continuously increases on all devices, 2023 icons and onwards will have much more intricate design.

As you can see with the example below, which illustrates "Game of Thrones" landscapes, this style perfectly depicts specific concepts or meaning.

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Credit: Lucía Types

Line style

Line icons are always a popular choice because the style is compatible with almost any other design element or overall design style. This icon style keeps evolving, and the new trend adds a little more visual attraction with a drop of color.

The color can fill part of the icon or simply float in the background, which ties the elements of the icon together and can emphasize the brand color.

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Credit: Yulia Choo

3D gradients

The 3D gradient is gaining popularity and has become quite dominant in recent years in all aspects of design, including icon design. From enriching the color of the elements in the icon to giving a pop effect to monochromatic icons on a full gradient-colored background, this style is a great way to create striking modern icon design.

Good icons in 3D can be difficult to create. So, this is one nifty tactic you can use to get that effect even if you have limited design skills or resources.

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Credit: Behance

Hand-drawn

Hand-drawn icons are more authentic and give an intimate feel. Styles can vary, from simple lines or shapes to complex illustrations.

Both colored and black and white drawings are equally appealing and create a sense of whimsy and wonder. This style is perfect for brands that want to show the human aspect of their business.

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Credit: Grant Burke

Icons with depth

Creating depth on a small scale is tricky, so designers overcome this barrier by creating oversized icon sets. Adding shadows to the elements in the design creates a three-dimensional effect.

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Credit: Rwds Studio

This is a popular app icon trend, since it has a more modern, game-like look. This will be a trendy icon look in 2024, as the rise of AI illustration generators will help designers create more realistic images much faster.

Abstract

As its name suggests, an abstract icon conveys multiple concepts and various emotions in a single symbol. The abstract icon can represent all the different aspects of a business, such as the products it offers, personality, and values.

The color palette used in abstract icons can shape people's perception of the brand without having to illustrate a specific object or a meaning.

This design is often used in industries that connect people or businesses, such as freelancing networks or social media.

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Credit: St Sohan

Bright colors

Bright colors draw the viewer's attention and spark positive feelings, so no wonder they’re still one of the hottest icon trends.The colors can be used as a background of a monochromatic icon, full-color elements, or for icons with gradients.

Bright color icons create a sense of optimism and can amplify the humanization of a brand or a product. Popular colors designers love to work with are yellow, blue, green, and purple, which complement each other and create appealing color palettes.

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Credit: Silence Video

Flat icons

This is perhaps the longest-standing icon trend, and in 2024 it shows no sign of stopping. The reason is probably the simplicity of flat design, which is very suitable for expression on a small scale. 

Flat design is a user interface design that uses simple, two-dimensional elements and bright colors. The flat design creates a simplistic and clean impression by reducing the number of details such as textures and shadows.

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Credit: Ekaterina Gritsenko

Conclusion

We hope this list of icon design trends helps give you a few ideas. Although it may not seem like much, remember that icons have a significant impact on your UX, while app icon design can directly affect how many people download or purchase your app!

Why waste hours creating icons only to end up with something below par? Hire professional designers and get everything you need for your next digital design project: from custom icons to landing pages, ManyPixels does it all!

Discover how we compare to other design services on the market. Or give us a call for a chance to ask any questions!

An experienced creative talent with a demonstrated history of working in the advertising industry for more than 18 years. A strong creative writing professional with a special focus on creating content for marketing and social advertising projects. I have a Master's degree in Theater Directing. I love hiking, enjoy obscure music and European cinema. I am an avid fan of UFC!

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