Designing new icons for Office
The company redesigns the look of its app icons in an attempt to put the branding of programs like Word and Excel on the back burner and locate the content center of users.
Microsoft has redesigned its application icons for its suite of programs, from Word to Excel, in an attempt to “get out of the way of users” and allow them to focus on tasks rather than branding.
Ideade design from the Microsoft design team
The new icons have been redesigned by Microsoft’s internal design team, which has given the application icons a more three-dimensional (3D) and colorful look, and has separated the letter and symbol within each icon.
The new icon is intended to be “bolder, lighter and more user-friendly” than previous ones, says Jon Friedman, general manager of device design and experiences at Microsoft.
The new icons see the letter, such as “W” for Word, enclosed within a square, which is set against another symbol that represents the program. The changing color gradients give the entire icon a 3D feel.
Icon corners are now rounded instead of straight, and icons are now straight instead of sitting at an angle. Now “more intense and brighter shades” of color have been used, and the icons are now “customizable”, as the letter attached to each can be added or removed depending on the context and available space.
This is meant to be more suitable for “cross-device” use, Friedman says, as it seeks to preserve the program’s recognizability without necessarily using letter. This is intended for when users switch from desktop to tablet, for example, where there may not be enough space for the full icon.
The icons now seek to focus on the content of the programs, rather than their names; For example, the symbol used in the Powerpoint icon is a pie chart, while for Word, it is an aligned document.
Microsoft icons over time
“We wanted to prioritize people’s content over the app or document, so we changed the layout to emphasize the symbol rather than the letter,” says Friedman. “We also removed the border from the document in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and emphasized sentences, cells and pie charts, a metaphor for content, which is the most important thing. “These changes are metaphors for Microsoft to get out of their way and allow them to focus on their work.”
The new icons are part of a broader redesign for Microsoft, which saw its suite of programs change their user experience (UX) and graphics earlier this year.
The main goal of the redesign is to remove barriers for users, Friedman says, by increasing cross-collaboration between programs and focusing less on the software itself and more on its capabilities.
For example, users can now insert a slide from a PowerPoint platform into a document without leaving the Word application, while many users can now work on a document in Teams at the same time and make video calls without leaving the program.
Microsoft’s new set of apps icons