Re: [Usability] Rational for icons in button

On Fri, 2003-10-24 at 14:29, Julien Olivier wrote:

> OK, that's clear enough now.
> But what I still don't understand is: how is it more of a problem to
> design icons for buttons than it is to design stock icons (for toolbars)
> ?
> What I mean is that theme developers (currently) also have to design
> stock icons. Most of them don't do this (for the reasons you gave) and
> we end up having nice GTK themes with clashing/ugly icons.
> So if your point is: "it's very difficult for theme designers to create
> _button_ icons and so we have to get rid of them", I don't really
> understand why it would be more difficult to design _button_ icons than
> stock icons.

Because the button icons tend to be icons for abstract concepts that are
hard to represent visually in a way that makes sense everywhere.

Hmm..I guess what I'm really saying is that some concepts should be
removed from the stock icon set, or at the very least be removed from

stock icons typically used in menus and toolbars, like cut & paste or
print, have natural physical representations. stock icons typically used
in buttons, like apply, cancel, close or credits, does not have natural
or universal representations. 

Now take a dialog with the buttons email, save, print, and cancel. It
has a mix of real and abstract action. So either you:

- have an icon theme that implements icons for all those (let's pretend
cancel can be represented universally)
- have an icon theme that implements some of the icons and using default
icons for the rest
- remove abstract icons from the stock icons so you have no icon for the
cancel button
- remove all icons from all the buttons.

>From a visual & practical point of view I think the latter is better.

> But if your point is: "it's difficult for theme designers to create any
> icons", then I think it's off-topic.

It is difficult, but that wasn't the point I was trying to make.
My point is more that, because something is difficult and time consuming
we should try to reduce the problem, since we know that not many will be
able to do it.

Let's say I have time and energy to make 10 icons, as it stands now I
either have to do icons that are mostly used in dialog buttons or
concentrate on icons used in menus and toolbars or try to find some mix.
Either way it will mean that the theme won't be consistent if it doesn't
match with the default stock icons. Even if I turn off icons in toolbars
& menus and do the most common dialog button icons, I still have the
problem that any stock icon could be used in a button. If no buttons had
icons, then I can start by turning icons off everywhere, then add later
add icons for common toolbar items and so on.

At best icons in buttons add some color and familiarity to the
interface, at worst they disrupt the flow of the design. I don't think
we should rely on icons on buttons to make them more friendly or usable,
that should come from consistent naming and placement.

Basically, the whole stock icon thing is full of difficult problems, and
I feel that disabling icons on buttons is a good place to start :)

Or do you have any good reasons for keeping them? Maybe I'm forgetting
some important aspect here?

Perhaps this is only making sense in my head after a long week ;)

Ronny V. Vindenes <s864 ii uib no>

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