Pictograms for web application?
February 27, 2005 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a project for a content management application and need to create an icon for each of 2 types of documents. I'm stumped.

The icons need to be visually distinct from each other and not reliant upon a color change to indicate the difference. They need to be devoid of cultural connotations and they need to be pretty tiny, so it would be best that they only have one or two elements. The two types of documents they will represent are:

1) Living Documents: compiled on the fly from the latest approved versions of content available in the data source.

2) Legacy Documents: scanned static documents that previously existed only in paper format.

I need ideas (just description - no need to draw anything)!
posted by idest to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
A book for the legacy documents, or a pile of papers if you can have that level of detail, and ... a computer? Some 1s and 0s?
posted by librarina at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2005

1. little piece o' paper, maybe at an angle with one or two little "shadow" pieces o' paper behind it, indicating motion, either one on each side, or just sort of coming in behind the little piece o' paper from one side
2. standard document icon - little piece o' paper

this search on google images comes up with approximate representations of both types of icons that I had in mind, though one is just a small gif.
posted by jessamyn at 10:49 AM on February 27, 2005

Apple's "Add playlist" icons in iTunes and elsewhere add a gear to a document icon to mean "dynamic query-based playlist", like this:
posted by nicwolff at 10:50 AM on February 27, 2005

idest - for the legacy documents, possibly a scroll?
And for the digital ones, I echo everyone else that as long as you come up with something that differs them from regular documents by adding something consistent to the image, people will 'get' it.
posted by SpecialK at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2005

Again, stealing from Apple: for number one I'd use a set of rotational arrows to indicate turnover/constant change (no, not animated rotating - just rotational).

Static documents, definitely in with Jessamyn
posted by nathan_teske at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2005

This page of 300 images from 1800 sites and this (warning) huge page of icons may give you ideas. As others have pointed out, Apple is the best at this, so Susan Kare's portfolio should be helpful.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2005

How about a document icon with an ice-cube badge for "frozen" (static) documents, and one with a wave badge for "liquid, changing" documents?
posted by adamrice at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2005

On second thought, a snowflake might be easier to identify than an ice cube--but not as evocative.
posted by adamrice at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2005

Gelernter once suggested document icons age from white to brown based on age. Use the default doc type icon for the scanned docs, but color them brown or deep tan. The active docs should be white and offer a badge indicating "new" or "active." A sparkle, for example, or an unlocked padlock.
posted by mwhybark at 10:02 PM on February 27, 2005

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