My designer is working on a flat design for a gaming portal for World of Warcraft.

We want to use icons for a sub-menu and figured using icons directly from the game would be best from a user perspective. The problem is that the icons are all 3d. Here's an example:

enter image description here

We'd like the menu to look like it's a part of the flat style but we're not sure what to do to pull it off. Also using these icons breaks any type of uniformity that a menu usually has (since all the icons are fairly differently)

We can use random flat icons because the sub-menus ARE a little generic... but I still think that using something from the game would be best for users.

Does anyone here have any input that can help us come up with a workable idea to use?

  • Redraw the icons in a flat aesthetic.
    – DA01
    Apr 29, 2014 at 5:34
  • 2
    Are you thinking of creating a flat icon for every WoW icon? If so, that seems like both a lot of work and in the end just confusing. Since the icons will be very similar.
    – swdev
    Apr 29, 2014 at 7:09
  • In the example you've given, the icons are directly next to the in-game glyph they're talking about - but you say "the sub-menus ARE a little generic". As a WoW player, the menu above makes sense and your own custom icons would be weird - but the real icons next to your own (possibly unrelated) site categories would also be weird, there I'd expect your own icons.
    – Rob Church
    Apr 29, 2014 at 9:09
  • @pink-diamond-square Yeah they are categories like "Stat Priorities" "Gems & Enchants" "Spell Rotations" etc... They have icons in the game that could "resemble" that selection, but there isn't an icon that directly covers those categories. I wanted to avoid using something custom but I think it might be the best choice.
    – user22805
    Apr 29, 2014 at 16:41
  • IMHO, as a hypothetical user of said portal, I would prefer to have the actual icons from the game. I would instantly recognize the icons and therefore like your portal! Apr 30, 2014 at 2:22

2 Answers 2


The icons should match the overall aesthetic of the UI. If you're going for a very flat aesthetic for your UI, the icons should follow along.

So if you're using this subject matter:

enter image description here

Redraw it so it fits your flat UI (really quick/rough example):

enter image description here


I'm feeling where you're coming from as far as making the users feel comfortable through familiarity, but ask yourself:

Will using icons that look just like what's used in game really be a good way to represent the functionality for my interface?

I suggest that you focus on using the color scheme and style of the game and icons in the interface to create a familiar feel, but keep the icons purpose-specific.

Look at the color scheme, image theme, and button style to format your interface and its icons. Decide on a happy medium between functionality and the desired theme.

Your users will be far more impressed by on-topic icons themed in the style of the game without copying the actual icon designs.

Edit: If the icons in question have exactly the same functionality / intended purpose as the ones in the game, then there's certainly nothing wrong with using the same designs in the style of your interface.

Good luck!

  • I would prefer to have the actual game icons. Why force me (a user) to learn a whole new set of visual associations? Apr 30, 2014 at 4:03
  • @ddenhartog OP mentions some of this stuff being "fairly generic." - If it were the case that these icons represented the very same in-game functionality, I would suggest using the icons that users know. I simply mean for the OP to not hinder the meanings of the icons by attempting to use in-game icons for purely decorative, style purposes, rather than functionality. Apr 30, 2014 at 10:09

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