HomeVector IconsIcons vs. Text: Which is Better for Website Navigation

Icons vs. Text: Which is Better for Website Navigation

One of the most important factors to consider when developing a website is how to make it simple for people. So they can look around and find the information they need. The choice of icons or text for navigation menus and buttons is a popular point of contention among web designers. While SVG icons can be appealing and intuitive, the text is often perceived as more accurate and approachable. So, which is preferable for website navigation: icons or text?

Icons are graphic representations of things, actions, or concepts. They can be used to express information and assist people in understanding how to engage with a website. Also, the text gives a more complete description of what each menu choice performs. It also assists customers in making better-informed decisions.

There are several advantages to employing both icons and text for website navigation. The optimal strategy may differ depending on the context and audience. In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of both techniques. You will also receive tips on whether to use vector icons vs words in various instances. Whether you’re starting from scratch or optimizing an existing website, this article will help you make sound choices about how to arrange your navigation menus for optimal usability and user experience. 

Website Navigation

The debate between icons vs. text for website navigation:

The debate between icons and text for website navigation is a longstanding one in the field of web design. Users of vector icons say that they might give a more pleasant and straightforward navigation experience, especially on mobile devices with limited screen area. They also suggest that icons can be more understood across cultures and languages. Because they do not rely on certain words or phrases.

But, advocates of text-based navigation argue that it can be more clear and precise. Because it enables more extensive explanations of each link. This is especially beneficial for impaired people who rely on screen readers to access the web. Additionally, text-based navigation may be easier to translate into different languages. Because the meaning of the words is conveyed regardless of cultural differences.

The choice between icons and text for website navigation will depend on a variety of factors. It includes the target audience, the purpose of the website, and the available screen space. Many modern websites combine SVG icons and text to create a comprehensive navigation experience.

Advantages of Icons for Website Navigation:

Because icons have several advantages for website navigation, they are a popular choice for many modern websites.

Some of the key advantages of using icons for website navigation include:

  • Visual Appeal: Icons are more attractive than text-based navigation because they give color and personality to a page. SVG icons that are well-designed can make the user experience more engaging and pleasurable. Icons might help visitors stay on a website longer.
  • Intuitive: Icons can be more intuitive than text-based navigation, especially on mobile devices with limited screen area. Icons that are well-designed can be identified. They help people locate what they’re searching for on a website more quickly and easily.
  • Universally Understood: Icons are more understood across cultures and languages. Because they do not rely on certain words or phrases. This is especially useful for websites that have a worldwide audience. So, it may reduce the need for translations while improving usability. 
  • Space-Saving: Icons can be more space-efficient than text-based navigation, especially on mobile devices with limited screen area. By using vector icons instead of text, website designers can fit more navigation choices into a smaller space. It can be useful in providing a simplified and efficient user experience.
  • Branding: Icons can be an effective branding tool since they can be created to represent a website’s brand identity. This may assist in developing a strong visual identity for a website, which can promote brand awareness and user engagement.

Advantages of Text for Website Navigation:

Text-based website navigation also has several advantages over icon-based navigation.

Some of the main advantages are:

  • Clarity and precision: The text enables more exact and extensive explanations of each connection. It can be especially useful for visitors who are new to the website or have visual impairments. Users can comprehend what each link symbolizes and where it will take them when using text-based navigation.
  • SEO benefits: Text-based navigation can enhance a website’s SEO. To achieve this, descriptive keywords are used that search engines can use to comprehend the website’s content. This can help the website rank better in search engine results and boost its visibility.
  • Translation:  Text-based navigation is simple to convert into other languages. This is mainly because the meaning of the words can be transmitted properly regardless of cultural variations. This is especially crucial for websites that cater to a global audience or must be accessible to visitors who speak multiple languages. 
  • Consistency: Text-based navigation offers a consistent user experience across devices and platforms. Text-based navigation, unlike SVG icons, is recognizable and consistent across all platforms.
  • Accessibility: Users with disabilities, such as visual impairments or dyslexia, will find text-based navigation more accessible. Content-based navigation allows users who use screen readers to quickly navigate the website since the screen reader can read the content aloud.

When to Use Icons or Text for Website Navigation:

Choosing between icons and text for website navigation requires taking various variables into account. This includes the type of website, target audience, and website goals. 

Consider the following:

  • Type of website: The type of website will influence whether icons or text are used for navigation. For example, e-commerce websites may benefit from utilizing vector icons for their shopping cart and checkout links. On the other hand, journalism websites may prefer text-based navigation for their article categories.
  • Target audience: Another key factor is the website’s intended audience. The better alternative for an audience that is predominantly made up of young individuals or tech-savvy consumers is high-quality icons. However, if the audience includes older people or people with visual impairments, text-based navigation may be more accessible and user-friendly.
  • Goals of the website: When choosing between icons and text, keep the website’s goals in mind. For example, if the aim is to improve conversions or drive sales, SVG icons may be a better choice for calls to action, such as “Buy Now.” Text-based navigation is more successful at inserting relevant keywords if the objective is to boost SEO.
  • Available screen space: When deciding between icons and text, available screen space is also an important factor to consider. On mobile devices with smaller screens, icons may be a more space-efficient option. Whereas text-based navigation may be more effective on desktop devices with larger screens.
  • Cultural context: Another aspect that might impact the decision between symbols and text is cultural context. Some symbols or vector icons, for example, may have different meanings or connotations in different cultures, making text-based navigation a safer and more effective option. 

Increasing use of  Icon Design for Website Navigation:

Icons are the most recent advancements and popular approaches for guiding website users. You can use them through the site’s information and functionality. SVG icons are visual symbols that symbolize ideas, activities, or things. They are frequently used in conjunction with text labels to help visitors navigate a website.

Icons may be more aesthetically pleasing than text alone. They can convey information quickly and efficiently through website navigation. Several emerging trends in icon design have made them even more useful for website navigation in recent years.

Some of these trends include:

  • Simplification: Icons are being designed with a focus on simplicity and minimalism. This allows them to be easily recognizable and understood, even in small sizes.
  • Consistency: Website designers use a consistent set of vector icons throughout their site, making it easier for users to recognize and understand them.
  • Interactive icons: Icons are becoming more dynamic, with animations or other features that help users grasp what they represent.
  • 3D Icons: Some website designers are employing 3D icons to provide a more immersive experience for consumers. This can help them engage more with the site’s content.
  • Monochrome Icons: Because of their simplicity and adaptability, monochrome icons are gaining popularity. You can easily distinguish them from one another and may use them on any backdrop without clashing.


In terms of website navigation, both text and icons offer benefits. SVG icons are appealing and may convey information rapidly, but they can also be ambiguous and perplexing to users who are unfamiliar with them. Text, on the other hand, is more explicit and exact, but it is less visually appealing and takes up more space on a page.

In the end, the decision between icons and text for website navigation is selected by the unique requirements of a website and its users. Websites aimed at a younger, more tech-savvy audience may be able to depend more heavily on vector icons. On the other hand, websites aimed at an older or less tech-savvy audience may require more text. Websites with complex or highly specific functions may require more text to ensure that users understand how to use them effectively.

It is worth mentioning that many websites utilize a combination of icons and text for navigation. This method combines the advantages of both choices, with icons giving visual signals and text offering unambiguous directions. Overall, the key to effective website navigation is to prioritize clarity and ease of use. Whether you use icons, text, or a combination of the two, anything will work. By doing so, website administrators may guarantee that their users have a great experience. Also, they can locate the information they want quickly and simply.

Bhushan Verma
Bhushan Verma
Optimizing life and web-pages. Either you will find me immersed in the world of images and vectors or watching cricket.
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