Re: The gnumeric icon needs love.

Gnumeric list: 
        I'm fowarding to the list this reply by seth nickell (1st indent) to  a
reply by ?jimmac? (second indent) to me (third). 

I originnal mentioned the gnumeric icon needing work since it had been
singled out in the Human Interface Guide. (I withdraw "slameed" but it
got everyone's blood up :-) )  

I have one tiny suggestion in this matter. If we change the icon at some
point, having numbers in it would be nice, and echo the "numeric" in the

On Wed, 2001-12-26 at 18:17, Seth Nickell wrote:
Gnumeric is headed to 1.0 and its icon has been slammed by the Human
Interface Guide:

Not exactly slammed, actually its a pretty good icon. "The Gnumeric icon
is a great icon except for the introduction of extra visual noise." I
intentionally used an above average icon to illustrate the problem so
other issues with the icon weren't distracting (i.e. its actually hard
to make a specific point with an icon that's problematic in lots of

I have redesigned the icon taking comments about it not scaling down
properly in mind. But I disagree the sheet of paper is there for no
reason. All gnome office applications share the sheet element to have
something common. They all are office-document related. If you have any
suggestions about a better common element, feel free to let me know.
Microsoft has already taken the cool puzzle piece I'd love to have taken
before them ;)

IMO the "piece of paper" motif is common enough outside GNOME Office to
largely negate the common element effect. I mean, most document icons
have a piece of paper too, which is another reason it should be avoided:
its nice to have application and document icons be distinct.
(additionally the pieces of paper are coloured different, and even use a
different fonts for the 'a' and 'g' of abiword & gnumeric). The puzzle
pieces are distinctive enough that when you see them you know "ah, this
is part of the same thing as that"; I don't think the piece of paper
will do that. 

This is all sort of beside the point though, because I don't think we
should have a common element in the icons unless it is quite subtle or
comes very naturally (the piece of paper for both Gnumeric & Dia feels
awfully forced).

Why have icons? Icons have three major user benefits:

1) The help people rapidly recognize items when they scan an information
2) Icons can augment/replace text by providing a pictorial
representation of a concept
3) Icons (can) look attractive

Look at the use case for these icons. The user navigates through the
GNOME "Applications" menu trying to either find a specific application
or accomplish a particular task. Particularly in the latter case, when
they aren't specifically sure what Application(TM) they want, its
important for icons to communicate an idea clearly. 

The fact that something is a part of GNOME Office doesn't really help
them. Its simply not an important enough fact to the user at that time
to burden the icon with it. (aside: Given the lack of integration
between GNOME Office applications I think it might even be a negative
thing, since it may establish expectations for sharing documents and
common behaviors which are 100% sure not to be there in the near future
GNOME Office, but I think the point is valid even if GNOME Office
components were as well integrated as MS Office).

Icons get abused for all sorts of other things, but one of the worst
(imo) is branding and productisation. I believe the primary reason MS
Office documents have a common icon is not really for the user, but the
company is wanking off. It probably also makes users feel better
value-wise because they can obviously see that the Microsoft Office box
they just paid $500 for produced so many icons in their menu.

If we really feel the need to blow ourselves like the big boys we can
probably try to think up a common element...but I don't think a paper is
effective. Its reasonable for AbiWord because it reminds people of
Microsoft Word and because word processing is still very much associated
with the printed product. But its rather out of place for Gnumeric and
Dia. It would be even worse for Mr. Project, Tout Doux, GNOME-DB,
GnuCash and Evolution (all applications where the user produced object
is almost certainely not a piece of paper). A less intrusive approach
would be to adopt a distinctive visual style for the icons (for example,
all the OS/X utility icons have a common look to them even though there
are no common objects).

With icons it is really important to think "how would this assist the
user when they see the icon". If it doesn't help them much, its probably
more harm than help because it will distract from things that *do* help
(like the chart and mini-spreadsheet, which I think would make a
terrific icon by themselves). FWIW I think the current Dia icon (the
loose 'D' shape done with various diagram elements) is better usability
wise than the icon attached to your message, if not as attractive.


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