Icons on input field

Three input fields with icons: Email Address, Password, Confirm Password

Input field without icons

Three input fields without icons: First name, Last name, Email address

Do icons really matter on an input field? Do they encourage users signing up?


2 Answers 2


When the icons exactly (or as near possible) confer the ideas and concepts of a form's box, they are greatly beneficial to rapidity of viewer comprehension.

Good/Great icons provide another more subjective quality, that of endearment and apparent consideration (demonstrated empathy) of and to the time/rate of the user's digestion and ease of familiarity with the functions and purposes of elements/forms etc.

Unfortunately there's no objective way to absolutely say that an icon is absolutely the best and most effective of its type and for its purpose. Although I think it can be safely and assuredly said that the example you show works quite well.

If this is your situation, I suggest you use these types of icons with stylistic considerations appropriate to your site/environment.

  • 5
    'they are greatly beneficial to rapidity of viewer comprehension' - What research are you drawing from to suggest that a text field based icon improves comprehension? Apr 9, 2016 at 20:15
  • I'm sorry. I assumed it was obvious.
    – Confused
    Apr 10, 2016 at 12:12
  • 5
    “I assumed it was obvious.” – Prime mistake in UX and communication.
    – Crissov
    Apr 15, 2016 at 8:47
  • @Crissov ...by those who've self selected and/or been appointed inappropriately.
    – Confused
    Jul 12, 2018 at 0:17

The best answer would be 'Ask Yourself'.

When you drive car, Do you want to read Road Signals in written text?

Probably Not. Because it will take time and you should be focused on the road.

So, Red, Yellow and Green colors are simple enough to convey the meaning of signals.

Arrow signs are quite simple than 'TURN RIGHT' or 'DO NOT TRY TO OVERTAKE' (by the time you read, you .. you know)

Likewise, People are tired of reading the same sentences all over the Internet. 'Enter your name', 'email address' etc..

But, when you see a Kid's head, You get the idea that this field is asking for nickname and a Locker image is nothing but the Password field.

And most importantly. Pictures attract more than text. ( for example, 'Like' text or 'Heart' icon. Which one will you prefer for your Instagram pics? ) I like <3<3<3

  • 3
    This answer is almost entirely contrary to nearly all research and core knowledge within usability. The idea "just ask yourself" is where poor usability starts. You are not the user. The notion that color has universal meaning is false. The statement that "people are tired of reading the same sentence" is amazingly blunt without any supporting evidence. The notion that an icon plants the same, and correct, idea in everyone's head is easily shown to be completely inaccurate. Apr 10, 2016 at 21:27
  • 1
    @EvilClosetMonkey I think asking yourself the question is important, if only to try and establish whether you have enough of the same thinking and requirements as the end-user and if you are making assumptions that are not true. As with any type of testing, how you validate the assumptions you make will go a long way towards improving the design. I think asking yourself is part of an bigger process and not completely irrelevant.
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:54
  • @MichaelLai - Yes, I absolutely agree. The answer however, in my opinion, is phrased in a way that what your own answer, as a designer, is the "right" answer. It can certainly be a piece of the process, but is certainly not the end-point. Other aspects of the answer are also clearly not accurate. Apr 11, 2016 at 1:59
  • 1
    @EvilClosetMonkey I understand the point that you are making, which is why I wanted to add this comment to the answer to encourage the person to consider their answer further.
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 11, 2016 at 2:00
  • 2
    Yes, I can. You are not like your user, icons not enhancing usability, and the cultural differences of color meaning are all basic notions in usability. Not to mention that large amounts of automotive usability, such as road signs, do not translate to web sites. If you're unsure of the above you can ask a new question or ask in chat, as SE comments are not for extended discussions. Apr 11, 2016 at 14:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.