A Brief Guide to Symbols in Web Design

Published on:
April 20, 2022

The most basic symbols to carry meaning are geometric shapes. Web designers often combine these geometric shapes and create complex and meaningful characters in a design. But, these shapes hold independent meaning too. 

To get better at web designing or understanding the fundamentals of the logo or a graphic design or web design, you need to acknowledge the purpose of basic shapes.

web design agency

Usually, the figures with closed ends denote stability, and the ones with curved surfaces add a sense of movement or fluidity.

What are the universal symbols you can use in a web design? What do they mean?

symbols in web design

Some basic shapes and their meanings:

  • Curved lines: familiarity, comfort, fluidity
  • Arrow: direction, movement
  • Diagonal lines: direction, tension, excitement
  • Zigzag: confusion
  • Spiral: transformation
  • Triangle: balance, transformation
  • Circle: cycle, complete
  • Square: stability, security
  • The intersection of lines: relationships.

History of Symbols used in web designs

Symbols have meanings. And in the world of web designs, you can combine the web elements to represent something valuable. These symbols then represent the brand's identity and communicate its story. The stories influence the way your customers perceive your product. 

history of symbols in design

But how did we first use this symbol? What were its origins? Let us explore this in the following few paragraphs.

  • The heart symbol

The heart is one of the most common symbols in web design and everyday life. In web designing, too, it often gets noticed for being overused. We all know what the symbol represents. It represents love, kindness, affection, and at times, unity.

Several theories point toward the symbol's origin. Let us go through some of them.

       1. The human heart has three chambers with a small dent. That is how Aristotle described it. Since then, people have represented the heart using the famous symbol. 

       2. The shape of the ivy leaves the symbol of fidelity.

       3. Two swans come together, intertwining their necks and forming a similar shape to the heart symbol.

  • Infinity Symbol.

The great mathematician John Wallis 1655 first introduced the symbol. We still use it widely in Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. It represents potential infinity. Also, we must note that it is not the quantity that represents infinity.

You can find a deeper meaning if you dig deep into its roots. In India and Tibet, the Infinity symbol also represents dualism and perfection. You can use it in the place of messages that denote balance between forces and unity. In the Egyptian Ouroboros, people indicate infinity by a serpent eating its tail, representing the cycle of death and rebirth.

  • Exclamation Mark!

The symbol comes from the Latin phrase "io." Latins use the word as an expression of joy or wonder. Then, people started using the letter "i" over "o" to denote strong sentiments while writing. The exclamation mark has a lot of nicknames, like the gasper and the screamer. Though writers think it is overused, web designers often disagree.

Web designers accepted the symbol to be versatile. So, billboards, ads, commercials, etc., often use an exclamation mark in their designs. A fun fact; back in 1999, Google included the exclamation mark in their logo to make it more meaningful. 

  • The "and" symbol.

 Last night we came across a friend reading "Just My Type." The author referred to the symbol as a tireless and entertaining character. This character might be an uncle with all the fun tricks in the book. Web designers use this symbol as an opportunity to play around with creativity.

The origin of this symbol takes us back to the ancient Romans. It debuted on the wall of Pompeii, where it represented the Latin word " et." The word means and in English. Eventually, as the British schools started using the symbol as the 27th alphabet, it got its new name "per se" and " ampersand."

  • The dollar symbol.

Many argue that the symbol originated from "U" and "S" of " United States." While it sounds convincing sometimes, that's not it. The character came from "ps," an abbreviation of the word " peso," a common phrase that English-Americans and Spaniards used during the trade. The name, however, is derived from an old bohemian currency known as the thaler.

When you use this symbol in a web design, it can represent various meanings. We can use it as a nation's identity, a currency, or a means to share the serpent's story from the bible.

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A website establishes trust. Your customer should not have to think twice before trying you out. Learning about symbols in design sounds cool. However, how can you make a website that converts? Please leave it to the experts now!

MarsDevs is that one-stop development genie that grants all your wishes from development to management. In addition to that offer, we can chip in anytime you want. MarsDevs has a team of experienced developers who know what it takes to make your website the best in the industry. 

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