Less is more in icon design?
February 4, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a recent blog post arguing that less detailed icons are better at representing broad concepts?

I recently saw a great blog post that used some nice illustrations and examples to point out that as detail was removed from an icon, the icon became able to represent a broader range of concepts. One section I vividly remember dealt specifically with the home icon. A very bare-bones, abstract icon represents the concept of "home" as in home page pretty well. But as more detail was added, the icon really began to stand for more and more specific things - a house instead of the concept of "home;" a specific house vs. any type of house.

I may have seen it on Reddit, Hacker News or Daring Fireball, but my GoogleFu and browsing their archives has failed to turn it up. I remember it being widely linked in the past 10 days.

Help me hive mind. You're my only hope.
posted by centerweight to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Perhaps you mean this?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:15 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes! Seven minutes. I love AskMe. And I like you a lot too, Narrative Priorities. Thanks for your help.
posted by centerweight at 3:21 PM on February 4, 2010

Yes, great article. I disagreed with the right hand side of the "home" example: clearly Mathis hasn't heard of a home plate in baseball. The truly minimalist home icon has a cute double-meaning.

But other than that nitpick, yuppers all the way: icons are not pictures, and it's strange how many designers don't quite understand the difference.
posted by rokusan at 3:25 PM on February 4, 2010

Scott McCloud illustrates the same principle in Understanding Comics.
posted by bingo at 5:31 PM on February 4, 2010

bingo: it was quoted and cited in the above article.
posted by idiopath at 6:58 PM on February 4, 2010

Response by poster: I need to re-read Understanding Comics, I guess. I completely missed the source of those illustrations.
posted by centerweight at 5:57 PM on March 8, 2010

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