Icon Trends in 2021: Everything you need to know

Icons today form an integral part of web design. This guide will show you the top icon design trends in 2021 to better understand the most popular trends and apply them in your design.

Icon Trends in 2021: Everything you need to know

The world of graphic design is constantly changing, and design trends come and go. Thus, graphic designers need to keep themselves updated with the latest design trends.

So, what’s new in icon design? Read to know more.

Icons today form an integral part of web design. In addition to the design appeal, this is also an intriguing way of attracting users to use icons as informational and navigational elements and to include them in larger designs.

Before we jump onto the latest icon trends, let’s first know about the history of icons.

The History of Icons: What, When, and Why?

The word ‘icon’ originates from a Greek word called ‘eikon.’ An icon is a miniature graphic symbol displayed on the computer screen from a digital perspective. When used correctly, icons communicate the product's core idea and intent, conserve screen space, and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal.

In 1981, computer scientist David Canfield and designer Norman Lloyd Cox created the first set of icons. Norman was to design a collection of office supplies such as documents, folders, etc. It was here that the first icon set was born.

Computers had advanced to the point where they needed visual symbols ( icons) to facilitate interaction between the user's needs and the software's interface. A good icon can serve both a purpose and convey meaning. It should be designed to describe the essence of an object or action carefully and accurately.

Now that you know the when, where, and why of icons, let's move on to the exciting part, i.e., the icon design trend.

This guide will show you the top icon design trends in 2021 to better understand the most popular trends and apply them in your design.

Let’s get started.

Minimalistic Icons

Minimalism is trending nowadays, with more and more people wanting to declutter their life. Minimalism has also made its way into the graphic design field and reached as far as saying, "the best interface is the one that cannot be seen."

minimalistic icons

Minimalism means reducing design to only the essentials, including shapes and colors. Thus it allows us to design something straightforward yet very memorable.

Today, more people than ever are spending time on content-focused platforms. As a result, designers are using designs that will not distract users from their activity. Even the websites and apps that featured complex designs and icons before are moving towards minimalistic icons and designs.

Explore Iconscout’s minimalistic icons here for free >>

Pastel Colored Icons

In every design, color plays a crucial role. Colors may seem like they are constant, but they are constantly changing. As a result, every year brings with it a new color trend. It seems this year’s color trend is pastel. With growing minimalism and simplicity in UI/UX design, pastel color perfectly complements the new trends.

pastel colored icons

But why are pastel colors becoming so popular? Perhaps it has something to do with the soothing and pleasing effect it has on people. In terms of feeling, pastel colors create a sense of relaxation when viewed. They are unobtrusive and fit well with the overall design, maintaining lightness.

Popular brands like Dropbox have been integrating pastel shades in their branding.

Explore Iconscout’s pastel colored icons here for free >>

Glyph Icons

The noun ‘glyph’' originates from the French word ''glyphe,'' which is derived from the Greek word ‘gluphē,’ meaning a hieroglyphic character or symbol. Glyphs are designed to represent objects using monochromatic shapes with a few subtle empty spaces that distinguish their features.

Glyph Icons-Iconscout

Even if the style is simple, it is very effective, especially if space is limited. The reason for this is because despite being minimalist, the icons can still be understood.

Explore Iconscout’s glyph icons here for free >>

Hover Effect Icons

When it comes to web design, icons with hover effects or animation while clicked are popular icon design trends. If you plan to integrate a hover effect in your icon, it is crucial to plan it during the design phase. This is because not all icons shapes or sets are suitable for the hover effect.

Hover Effect Icons

Moreover, try to keep the icons simple because, with the hover effect, the elaborate design will get lost. Simple icons are more suitable for the hover effect.

Line Style Icons

The line is one of the essential elements in graphic design. Using simple shapes and outlines, line icons have evolved from the original pixel art icons. They are one of the current most popular styles due to their ability to portray powerful images.

Line Style Icons

This type of icon style is versatile and works with any kind of background design. Because of their versatility, many of the icons pack content-line-style icons.

Explore Iconscout’s line style icons here for free >>

Circular Icons

Designers often use psychology while creating designs. From a psychological point of view, circles represent unity. They have no beginning or end and no angles.

Circular Icons

However, having no angles is what makes them so tricky to work with. The circular shapes do not stack well with rectangular shapes on the web, and the result is quite different from expected.

One thing to keep in mind when creating or using circular icons is to make sure that the content of the icons is clearly visible.

Hand Drawn Icons

Hand-drawn graphic design trends have been popping up in the design community for quite a time now. A well-known example of this was Dropbox's rebranding, which demonstrated the potential for building a truly unique image by using lines that look like they are drawn by hand with shaky dynamics.

Hand Drawn Icons

When design and doodles come together, they can kick creativity to another level. Hand-drawn icons have grown in popularity in recent years due to the increased demand for authentic images. They do not have the perfect shape, and their styles can vary from simple shapes to full-fledged color icons.

It is more friendly to use these icons since they feel more like they were designed by a real person -- not a machine. And the best part is, you don’t even have to draw them yourself. There are many pre-drawn icon sets available that you can try using in your designs.

Explore Iconscout’s hand drawn icons here for free >>

Emoji Icons

Emojis have become their own language. They are more casual than words and add clarity to a phrase that might otherwise seem vague. With emojis, people can express various emotions without having to use words.

Emoji Icons

With the growing use of social media, the use of emojis has skyrocketed. Emojis are today used as a more visual form of communication. This emoji trend has been slowly seeping into icon design. The icons are identifiable due to the focus on the head of a person or creature.

You can use Emoji icons for contact pages or when representing people or personas in a design.

Explore Iconscout’s emoji icons here for free >>

Isometric Icons

The word isometric comes from the Greek term for 'equal measure’. The isometric pattern helps you give a perspective to flat objects such that you can see the top and sides of the shape. In simple words, you are creating three-dimensional objects in two dimensions. The isometric icons are an extension of this design technique.

Isometric Icons

For a long time, most icons used were flat-style icons. However, the trends are changing. More and more designers have started using isometric apps in their web and print projects.

Isometric is gaining momentum because it gives the icon a realistic view while still being flat. It's a perfect mixture of flat and depth.

Explore Iconscout’s isometric icons here for free >>

In today's world, icons are an integral part of web design. Despite their simplicity, icons convey a lot of information within seconds.

Designers use icons to enhance the scanning and readability of the web pages or design. Thus, it is critical to choose the correct icons that will blend perfectly with the overall look.

Get Your Perfect Icons Set with Iconscout

If you want to keep up with the icon trends, don’t use icons from different sets. Use specialized icon libraries where all the icons are of the same style with the same parameters and line thickness. This will give your design an even look.

Using icons from different sites and sets can disrupt the pattern of the overall design. So, where to find these icon libraries?

With Iconscout, you will have access to 3.5 million icons that will leave the designer in you speechless. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself.

Explore today!


Visit Iconscout and make the most of our expansive library with 3.2M+ assets - Curated SVGs, Vector Icons, Illustrations, 3D graphics, and Lottie Animations.

Want to share your suggestions or become a part of the community? Write to us on our Community Forum on Discord.

Until then, happy designing!

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