The importance of a high-quality icon set is unparallel to contemporary UI design and web design, influencing the effectiveness of a design. There are a wide variety of icon sets available on the internet, including open source and free options. However, these icon sets are not equal in terms of quality, size, and consistency. Some are good, but many are not. The selection of a high-quality icon set has seen to be as time exhaustive as customizing your own icons. Nevertheless, choosing a good icon set for your design can make a major difference.
Icons are basically small graphical images of a concept or function in UI design and web design. Their primary purpose is not to add beauty to your designs but to be simple to understand. And they can serve to provide both, but their main goal should be to provide the functionality to your design. They should provide fast and identifiable visual indicators to users for easier comprehension. There are many examples. A house icon is easily recognized as the sign for the homepage. A magnifying glass icon indicates the search feature. A pencil icon signifies the content editing or modifying action. Heart/star icons are used for marking something as your favorite. Gear/cog icons represent the settings option. The list continues.
Icons are an integral aspect of UI design and web design. Unfortunately, they often are not given their due importance. The significance of icons is paramount in information-centric UI design like advanced SaaS products or dashboards. You can insert visual interest and style into the designs by using good-quality icons. Furthermore, high-quality icons can enhance user interactions if they are used appropriately. They allow actions to be taken instantly identifiable.
It is a natural process when using a UI or a website on a device that you instantly scan the content for the action you wish to make. A great example is the home screen of your most used or favorite app. Another good example is a list of options in a menu. The idea is that you do not wish to or have the time to read all the text on the page; rather, you want to identify the action you are searching for quickly. And that is the purpose of the icons.
A good high-quality icon design offers compact visual signs for the users, enabling them to search for the required information and action in a timely and effective manner. As constant icon sets are used over a period of time, users are quickly able to relate specific icons with specific actions. An excellent example is the sidebar navigation menus in UI design and web design. Usually, the navigation sidebar can be loaded with menu items, which can be an overpowering experience for the user. Icons lend these designs with fast and simple visual signs making navigating the menu list effortless to scan. It may appear to be a minor task, but icons can simplify the menu navigation process easier for the user. It enables locating the needed action easier, decreases cognitive pressure, and makes navigation easier to recall with time for the user.