There are several techniques for evaluating icon designs, and which one you use will depend on your goals and on your stage of design. So, depending on whether the icon is shown to the user in isolation or in the context of the actual interface. More importantly, however, is choosing a method based on what you need to learn to move forward with your design confidently.
Keep in mind that, even with methods where the icon is presented out of context, your test participants should always be part of the intended target audience and thus familiar with the overall industry and with relevant concepts.
What Do You Test When You Test an Icon/labels?
Different testing methods address various aspects of icon usability. But what makes an icon usable? Here are 4 quality criteria for icons:
1. Findability: Can people find the icon on the page?
2. Recognition: Do people understand what the icon represents?
3. Information scent: Can users correctly guess what will happen once they interact with the icon?
4. Attractiveness: Is the icon aesthetically pleasing?
These issues will be critical for the success of the final design but must be considered separately to determine how to improve an icon.
Findability: We used the Qty and Add to bag area to showcase a low stock pointer.
Recognition: Using a pointer box with the status of / inventory amounts in an assorted color next to the qty to purchase.
Information scent: this gave visitors a clear understanding that the product might not be available much longer and should act now.
Attractiveness: We used two options first when inventory was less than 40 we showed a softer offer color not to be to in your face. Then when inventory fell below 20 we outlined the pointer in Pink and showed the amount left with “Only X left?”
Low Stock Pointer, which was running from the 27th March - 25th April 2017, there was an estimated uplift in a conversion rate of +3.7%. The estimated annual incremental revenue associated with this uplift is $152,809.
Not all these testing methods need to be used to reach a usable icon design, but they are each helpful for different purposes and at different stages of the design process. Additionally, each method should be used to move toward a meaningful icon–labels relationship, and an optimal placement within the interface.
Note: The calculation takes the timeframe that the test was running (27th March - 25th April) as a representative sample for the year. Of course, this doesn’t take into account seasonal changes and fluctuations in traffic, conversion rate, and AOV. The incremental revenue presented here is, therefore, an estimate given the data available.