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Re: [htmldesigners] Generic Icons

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 06:55:22 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200201220655.g0M6tMN14812@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: james.homme@highmark.com
> 
> You get the idea. Does anyone know where I can find such icons, and once
> having found them, know what they represent?
                     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Looking at my non-computer domestic equipment, there is far more use
of text labels than icons, and the microwave, the most icon rich device,
sets the icons it uses in context by a text label, with all the icons
being based on only a couple of basic themes (number of waves, plus
one with snow flakes, for the defrost power).

I think that icons often hinder the occassional user of software and 
I think that the list you've already go well beyond the icons that
are sufficiently standardised between applications for most people
to have learnt a standard version that they can recognise without
looking for tooltips.

Icons may help people who use the same software on a frequent basis,
although the most frequent users will only use them as part of other
cues from their position on the screen (e.g. they will head for a 
particular part of the tool bar and only use the icon for terminal 
guidance, or, for, say, return to top icons, they will just recognize
an icon at the end of a paragraph, above a rule, or above a title,
without really noting the structure of the icon.

If the issue is people with learning disorders, I would suggest that
it is almost essential that international agreement be obtained on
icons and that those icons be graphically clean and make minimum
cultural references, and certainly avoid visual puns.  Domestic
equipment tends to use a very small number of standardised icons
(some of which are used in software, but often stylised to the
point or unrecognisability).  Even then,  I think there are a lot
of people, of normal intelligence, who would not recognize the eject or
pause symbols on CD recorders, or even the power on/off symbol.

I think that the computer industry has gone overboard with icons because
there are no printing costs for them and they can be done, rather than
because they aid usability.
Received on Tuesday, 22 January 2002 02:19:58 GMT

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