Four dos and one don’t in UI design. [Work]

02 Jun 2016
A case study: LensMechanix

We’ve been working hard with our client Zemax, to launch LensMechanix, a powerful software add-in for SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD design software. Part of our work entailed developing unique feature icons and descriptions for LensMechanix that would appear in SOLIDWORKS.

Before diving into design, we agreed on five principles:


  1. Make it simple. Icons should reflect the task and be easily connected to that functionality.
  2. Make it legible. What devices and screen sizes will the software run on? Design to the smallest application use.
  3. Make it flexible. If you anticipate additional features and functions to be added, be sure that you have a design system that is flexible enough to accommodate new icons.
  4. Make it consistent. Set brand and functionality standards and stick to them. This includes icon styles, color palette, changes of state or condition, dialogue boxes, etc.


  1. Reinvent the wheel. There is a reason why project wizards are often a magic wand. You can still make it your own using the unique brand style.

The software ecosystem:




  1. Zemax is the creator of OpticStudio, used by optics engineers to design optical lenses which products like lasers, microscopes, and cameras, etc. are built around.
  2. Mechanical engineers can now load OpticStudio files directly into SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD design software with the LensMechanix add-in.
  3. LensMechanix enables mechanical engineers to easily package, analyze and validate products built around optics designs to help speed time to market and reduce the number of physical prototypes required.


From a usability standpoint, we created simple icons that could easily be read at 16-64 pixels and reflect the functionality of the feature. Where possible, we used familiar shapes to indicate certain functions. From a branding standpoint, we needed the add-in UI to seamlessly connect visually with the SOLIDWORKS UI, while standing out using a unique color palette and icon style.





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Tags: Work, Web design