Thursday, January 26, 2006

Icons, Usability and Computers

On conveying information to users by using icons...

"A classmate of mine tonight made an excellent point about the symbology that is inherent in computing. Think about it from an outsider's perspective, from someone who's never used a computer seriously, only rarely, casually. The representations that we use to represent things are really quite silly.

In the olden days of the Mac, I remember a specific icon that drove me crazy: the paint bucket. It didn't look like a paint bucket to me at all, rather some bizarre odd shape that didn't made any sense at all. Icons that are clear to some folks are far from intuitive to others.

Think about it. If you click on Firefox or Internet Explorer, what are you clicking on? A stylized E? A fox on a planet? What do those mean, really? Look at the icon for Safari. It's a compass. But how does that represent the web to a new user? I'm not sure it does."   continued ...   (Via O'Reilly)

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