Is there a standard classification scheme used by graphic designers for icons to help identify the characteristics of icon designs?

I am not referring to things that describe the physical characteristics (e.g. 32px x 32px or file size), but style characteristics or the nature of the image (e.g. noun vs. action or abstract vs. detailed).

For example, iconfinder.com uses Categories and Styles on top of keyword terms, but it is still quite difficult to find or describe the icons clear enough to communicate the design elements.

Just wondering if things such as defining the icons as 'objects' or 'actions' or 'descriptions' and also describing the style and complexity of the design (single or multiple objects in the design) would make it more useful for people to find and design them.

  • Flaticon only has flat icons, so leaves style out of the question. They use categories as well. To name a few: Animals, Arrows, Art, Buildings, Business, Cinema, Commerce...
    – Yisela
    May 26, 2014 at 5:02
  • 1
    Actually, never heard about such things with my 13 years of experience as pro :)
    – Vnovak
    May 26, 2014 at 6:00
  • @Vnovak Would you find it helpful though? But I guess if you have never needed it as a professional then it is probably not as useful as I think it might be. May 26, 2014 at 6:14
  • Probably it can be useful inside your design team or community, but clients you will work don't know about such classifications for sure and just will provide samples for you.
    – Vnovak
    May 26, 2014 at 6:22
  • Both of these questions you asked... I haven't got the slightest idea of what you might be getting at. --- What you're thinking of, as far as I can tell, is used all the time.
    – Joonas
    May 26, 2014 at 6:42

1 Answer 1


To recap, what I said before. Here is presented some kind of different terms like 3d, simple, complex, flat, lineart, etc.. but even designers understand each of them in a bit different way. This is why specific visual references is the most effective way to be sure that everybody at the same track.

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