Icon Navigation

29 May 2009 - 5:02pm
5 years ago
8 replies
543 reads
Krystal Higgins
2008

I've seen them, but nothing specifically comes to mind. You might
want to read a post from SmileyCat from a little while back that
discusses this issue. In my opinion, standalone icons with no
textual hints can be quite difficult to use in a web environment.

http://www.smileycat.com/miaow/archives/000603.php

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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Comments

30 May 2009 - 3:06am
Barney Carroll
2009

Can't think of any site that uses icons exclusively as a primary
means of navigation.

Facebook is a good example of a site that would be very difficult to
use were it not for the icons.

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30 May 2009 - 7:45am
aschechterman
2004

A bit embarrassed to admit, but long ago, was on a neat team that had to
scale a desktop-kiosk-ATM-type app to web app, primarily for Seniors, and it
used almost exclusively icons (and selectable graphics which had very modest
rollover state). It worked but was very limited per features/functions. Was
bought by some US banking systems as ramp up for senior-customers and was
promoted at the bank teller's counter. (I remember us inviting
end-user/volunteers for on-going studies, by asking those veteran customers
who commented on the ad-promo). One nice aspect . . . the DOM was quite W3C
"1.0" accessible.

::::

Andrew Schechterman

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewschechterman

E-mail: aschechterman at gmail.com

Phone: 1-303-886-2440

:::::

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 8:06 PM, Barney <barney.carroll at gmail.com> wrote:

> Can't think of any site that uses icons exclusively as a primary
> means of navigation.
>
> Facebook is a good example of a site that would be very difficult to
> use were it not for the icons.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42417
>
>
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1 Jun 2009 - 8:22am
Stanislav Shymansky
2009

Example is http://me.com. All main navigation are icons without any
labels. And this is the only case when those icons can possibly work
alone, because Mac users already got used to them.

But I would not rank that one as a website. It's more like
application.

Krystal posted very nice link. I can add that it can be rather
difficult to recognize an action behind the icon, so they should be
really made with that in mind. Also there is a topic with different
shapes for icons on the same bar & color usage.

In general, the support problem with using icons is that you will
need to make new one's each time you change existing or add new menu
item.

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1 Jun 2009 - 11:20am
John Gibbard
2008

Ikea uses them in their second-tier navigation (left nav.)

I would look through the examples on PatternTap [1] and Konigi [2].

[1] http://patterntap.com/tap/collection/icons
[2] http://konigi.com

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Jun 2009 - 11:24am
Erin Lynn Young
2009

Although I agree with most of the disadvantages raised here, I thought
I'd throw out a couple of advantages, on the flip side...

- if selected iconography transcends language barriers, translation
may not be necessary
- requires minimal real estate requirements (ideal for mobile, other
small screens)

Many iphone apps use icon-based navigation, although the icons are
typically accompanied by written names.

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1 Jun 2009 - 11:24am
John Gibbard
2008

Correction, Ikea USED to use icons [1] but evidently have shifted away
from this as the pressures on their second-tier navigation grew with
an increasing amount of content.

[1] http://konigi.com/interface/ikea-navigation

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1 Jun 2009 - 3:40pm
Krystal Higgins
2008

Agree with many of the points above, and definitely agree that
there's a good advantage for icons in that they do not need to be
translated.

I'm an advocate for the safest method, which is to use larger icons
with short 1-or-2 word descriptive text (or text on rollover). I
will admit I love making icons, so I tend towards this approach most
often. Tooltips generally work for me if space is a constraint.

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23 Jun 2009 - 4:45am
Sachin Ghodke
2008

My experience tells me the quicker the user grasps information the
better it becomes for the to relate or interact with your website or
web application.

Icons used without text consume time and effort. The facade of
"pretty" icons would eventually wear off if the navigation is poor.
Icons usually supported by existing or rollover text might act as a
mode to beautifying the design, but the user experience would remain
unchanged.

Krystal, has provided a good link which gives a good insight into why
"only" icon navigation is not a good idea.

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