Icon Design: Text, images, targets

phoneSo where do we look when we click? What are we looking for? Is the text there just to serve as confirmation of what we have chosen to click, or do we aim for the text? In the Garmin GPS interface, they have clearly decided that the text is *as important* as the icon. This is, perhaps, because of the distance the user would be from the device…Whereas the iphone is used more close up…There, text seems just confirmation, not the target itself. Location, color and “iconic imagery”  seem to be the order of the day there.

Some icons are, well….iconic. The phone icon above really needs no text. Weather seems like another candidate. But we can’t really avoid text, by and large.

What is interesting to me is the matrix formed when we consider when icons are more flat versus more dimensional…The iphone “cheats”….they are flat, with dimensional effects. GPS units, in an effort to be “friendly” seem to skew chunky and dimensional, with drop shadows to emphasize their “realness.” Cellphone icons, like the LG Prada and the Blackberry bold, go flat and monochrome, to emphasize a tech, slick look.


Furthermore, there seem to be these three main types of designs: shaped button with text label (iphone), shaped button with integrated text label (Insignia GPS is one of the few I’ve found like this) and iconic shape with text label (many GPS units, plus Palm and many others)


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