Thursday, April 28, 2016

Icon design for application user interface. (Guys the floppy icon should die at last.)

A big part of graphic design - or perhaps the most important part - is to make designs that can pass a message or an information to as many people as possible. It's not just about making pretty pictures. The idea is to try and make any message as universal as possible, though sometimes different cultures, different experiences make that difficult, as the same element in a design may mean different things in different cultures/ people will associate with different things. (With the toilet sign actually being a prime candidate for such a discussion.)

But the damn SAVE icon in a lot of applications isn't one of those special cases! I'm talking to you dear floppy icon. The icon that people born after the 90s knows as the picture to click when they want to save stuff instead of what it actually is, a storage medium. I keep seeing the floppy even in some modern programs. Even the latest version of the Unreal Engine, Microsoft's Visual Studio and Dreamfall Chapters are using the floppy icon even though all of them are distributed electronically (Not criticizing the titles themselves, i actually like all three of them).

"So what's your point?" My point is that the floppy icon is not relevant anymore. And that is a problem when you are not trying to abstract a bit your icons while you are able to do so. What's the purpose of that function? It's not to save a file on a floppy, or on a CD or on a hard drive. It's purpose is to save your work on local storage medium, what ever that medium may be.
Don't use the actual medium as it will eventually be rendered obsolete down the line.
"We'll use a cloud then! People are going crazy about the cloud and using it."
...NO! That is for saving to the cloud, not saving locally. Keep it about the specific function it'll correspond to. Try to abstract the idea. Show that you are putting something into something and try not to take that out of context.

It's about making stuff as future-proof as possible, making them part of concepts instead of binding them to something physical. I still see signs of "no photos allowed" that show a bellows camera... In a time that more people take pictures with the phones instead of even a dSLR camera. Sure a dSLR camera is still relevant and identifiable but for how much longer? And even then, are we going to have a phone on that "no photos" sign? That'll mean "no phones allowed".

It's going to be a hard thing to disassociate the floppy with the meaning of saving, and I'm sentimentally attached to that thing, especially to the mechanical sounds it makes when you insert one. So much in-fact that i still have a drive in my PC even though it's not connected to the motherboard. But seriously; it's time.
Express the function, not the medium. Most mobile operating systems do a good job as they don't have to carry legacy luggage needed for supporting old hardware.

Just a quick, undeveloped idea for "saving",
"loading" and "new file".

Sunday, April 10, 2016