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factfile1.7 Web icons


Most people realise that when you want to checkout of an online store and pay for your goods you click on the picture of the shopping trolley or shopping basket. This simple graphic is an example of an ‘icon’. Icons are often found on navigation buttons.

The icons below are taken from three different e-commerce sites: Apple, Argos and Amazon. They all use an icon of a shopping basket or a shopping trolley.

shopping baskets

An icon is a small pictogram, a simple image that represents a function or process. The best ones are designed to be easily recognisable by any user, irrespective of their country of origin as far as possible. For example a picture of a printer may be used to allow the user to print out a hard copy of the current page, or an envelope may be an email link to contact the website owner.

Icons do not necessarily have to have any text alongside them, but this is often added to help visually impaired visitors. Icons do cause problems for visitors with a visual impairment who need to use screen reader software, so a text alternative should always be available somewhere on the page to allow them to access the entire website.

For more information about icons and pictograms, visit  and

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