A user’s ability to recognize an icon for a given action is a good measure of that icon's success. Though common conventions exist for some types of actions, iconography can be a usability trap, hiding familiar actions and concepts behind unfamiliar symbols.
When choosing between icon alternatives, a preference test can be used to learn which icon users most closely and commonly associate with your intended action.
We recommend testing the alternatives in their intended context and asking additional questions to find out why users preferred each option.
A good result for this test is when there is one clear winner with a score of around 70% or higher. If you can’t achieve this result with iconography alone, try experimenting with labels, either replacing or accompanying the icon/s in question.
In the sample test, there’s a pretty clear preference for the ‘Share A’ option, but lots of votes for two other preferences that struck a chord for participants familiar with either iOS or Android systems.
As always, consider your use case carefully when interpreting test data like this, to be sure you’re making the best design decisions for your audience.