This newsletter shows when to use icon symbols — and when not to.
Our puppy has decided to “landscape” our lawn by digging multiple holes, with amazing speed. Now our lawnmower won’t mow — the lawn isn’t flat enough. So I was excited to find a weed wacker, that would serve for cutting grass, for $10 at a local yard sale.
Later, while I was looking it over, I noticed this warning sticker (above).
Some of these icons I understand, but others still baffle me. In the 5th icon down, why is that poor man being attacked by arrows? In bottom icon, what is the strange triangle overlapping a circular saw blade? I guess I’m being warned to keep away from Skilsaws.
Icons are supposed to communicate a specific idea thru a simple symbol. But sometimes they just don’t work.
If you plan to develop an icon, consider:
• Complexity. The icon should symbolize one action or thing, that can be expressed in one word. Think “washroom”, “print”, “stop”.
• Context. Icons work best in a controlled setting that where there is a coherent system, like highways or operating systems. Note that these systems are designed for repeated use. Familiarity and repetition make icons more effective.
• Cross-cultural applications. Who is your audience? How universal does the icon need to be?
• Size. Is the icon displayed large enough to be understood? Tiny icons are useless.
• Finally, would words work better?
FACT OF THE MONTH
There are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo.