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When to use icons vs. icons with text vs. just text links?

I'm currently making a ticket system, but I don't know what would be better, icons for the main buttons or just text for the main buttons.

buttons with icons

buttons with text

What do you think? Also does anyone have any idea of what icon would be good for the "close ticket" button if I use icons with the main buttons?

  • 2
    This old question has a pretty relevant and good answer; does that answer your question or is there anything special about your use case/anything that Q doesn't answer ect?
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 5 '12 at 18:12
  • We're already repeating some ground so I've closed the question for now. Feel free to ask a more specific question or elaborate on relevant details for your use case if you feel it differentiates your question from the other enough.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 5 '12 at 18:41
  • Okay, I'll take a look at that other question and its answer.
    – Nathan
    Apr 5 '12 at 19:09

I don't see the icons adding anything to the interface. It doesn't look like the text will take up significantly more space and it provides much more clarity about the functionality.

If you have to ask yourself what icon could possibility be used for a button, then that icon is likely not to be clear enough without text.

I recommend sticking with just the text buttons.


Icons are useful in situations where you have limited space to present your interface. The increasing prevalence of Mobile development has caused a resurgence of interest in Icon based interfaces.

If your users will be using a mobile and desktop interface for the same site often, then it may be advisable to use icons in both, to unify the interface they utilize. This is what Google did with the new Gmail interface; they reduced the quality of the desktop UI a bit as a compromise to unify the design between their desktop and mobile platforms.

But without that need, there is little reason to use icon-only interfaces. With only three selections I see no reason to limit your space and provide only icons to the users. Larger click targets are faster to acquire anyway.

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