Blog: Behind the Scene

Correcting mistakes

Denis KortunovAuthor: Denis Kortunov
2 March 2008

When I wrote the article 10 mistakes in icon design, I did not expect it would arouse so much interest. Clearly, who would want to read about icons?! But I was wrong. Visitor statistics that usually make for somewhat dry and boring reading suddenly erupted: 93,386 visitors in a day!

Visitors statistics for Turbomilk.com

As it turns out, most of the visitors came from digg.com, where most of the rants and raves over the article took place. We were pleasantly surprised not just by the number of readers but also by the quality of their responses. We found the comments from the designers and developers of the products we discussed in the original article extremely useful.

For example, our friend Gedeon from Iconfactory reaffirmed my supposition that the icons from No.2 (Too many elements in one icon) are the work of Microsoft designers:

While we did in fact design the original core set of objects that were used as the basis of the Vista suite, the team at Microsoft took those metaphors and used them as they saw fit to construct the actual icons you see in the operating system. We had no control over how elements were combined with each other, or even what the final guidelines would be since our portion of the project was completed fairly early in Vista’s development cycle. Gedeon Maheux, Iconfactory

We also found this comment, from an employee of The Omni Group, on No.8 (Images of real interface elements in icons) very useful:

An interesting post with some good points. However, I don’t think you’re correct in #8, regarding OmniWeb: the Previous and Next buttons are indeed buttons. Clicking on one does not select it, instead it highlights like normal to reflect that it was clicked, and then causes the next or previous preference pane to be displayed, respectively. Clicking repeatedly will rotate through all of the preference panes. Andrew Abernathy, The Omni Group

I suspected that these were not icons but real buttons. Such use of buttons, however, remains highly controversial. You should place text on the button, not underneath it.

Pixel Jakob NielsenFor all of us Turbomilkers it was a great honor for our modest blog to be visited (and commented on) by the patriarch of usability — Jacob Nielsen. This is a man highly respected by designers and interface developers alike. By the way, the article was originally going to be called “10 mistakes in icon design, or playing a pixelated Jacob Nielsen”, since the structure of the article was adopted from Mr. Nielsen’s annual website usability reviews. I even prepared a pixel portrait of Nielsen but later decided not to burden the text with unnecessary embellishments.

In addition to English and Russian the article also was made available in French: 10 erreurs dans le design d’icônes.

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