Iconese: A Language No One Should Have to Learn
June 15, 2015
by Tammy Sachs, CEO
I’m a sucker for sleek design, especially in the kitchen. I smile when I look at my Asko dishwasher. I cry when I have to use it or change the settings.
Secretly, I pine for my old GE with real buttons (vs. a digital panel) that actually say what each one does.
I get that EU products are sold in 20 plus countries, so being language agnostic is good. When I go to Europe, there are lots of great icons that stand alone– ones for a hotel, a restaurant, and a bathroom.
When I’m in my kitchen, I’d really love appliances to have icons with words that say what they mean. That way, over time, I learn them and learn to love them.
When I first started in digital product development, I was told that icons take seven years to stand alone. We all know what the icons for “Back,” “Save,” and “Print” are (even though “Save” uses the floppy disk icon, which no one under 30 has probably ever seen.) People just know.
When I saw the new Electrolux dishwasher, I was blown away. It has a great design and it is easy to use.
For those designing products, sites and apps, it would be really smart to find out if the people who need to use your icons know what they mean – before the product is built. To me, any icon that needs rollover text to explain it, needs text placed underneath it
Next time I go shopping for an appliance, I’m bringing a list of the things I use it for to see if I can. My next appliance purchase will be sleek and usable --form married with function.
Thoughts welcome on icons and when they work solo versus when they need a little help: for example: On, Off, Start, Timer, Delicate, etc.