Are Hollow Icons Harder to Understand?

by Dmitry Dragilev

Aubrey Johnson, former lead designer behind Color and Twilio, opined in a recent article:

“…hollow icons are more work for your users and ultimately create cognitive fatigue.”

Is that really true though? Our own Tim Wright gave me his take:

As someone who needed to google the phrase “cognitive fatigue,” I think Aubrey’s write-up raises some very valid points.

That being said, context is a more important thing to focus on when deciding on interface/design elements or treatments. Everything (mostly) has its proper place, and we don’t get into that weird gray area until things become a trend and start having rampant misuse in the community (see: border radius, reflections, torn paper, etc.).

The Web will be a much better place once we stop blindly taking design direction from the folks at Apple and focus on creating meaningful, usable and targeted experiences.

To test this, our good friend Luke Wroblewski decided to run this awesome set of polls asking people to voice their opinions. Do you think hollow icons harder to understand? Vote to let us know!

About Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a Boston-based user interface and experience design firm focused on human centered digital design