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Icons as carriers of information

Black, A. (2017) Icons as carriers of information. In: Black, A., Luna, P. ORCID:, Lund, O. and Walker, S. ORCID: (eds.) Information design: research and practice. Routledge, London, UK, pp. 253-269. ISBN 9781472430700

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The use of icons, that is symbols to signal or give access to functionality in computer interfaces, continues a tradition of using symbols to convey meaning in contexts where space and, sometimes, time are constrained; for example in traffic signs or equipment controls. Since the first uses of icons to give access to functionality in the revolutionary Xerox Star and Apple Macintosh interfaces, discourse about icons has incorporated, and in some cases emphasised, their role in communicating brands distinctively, rather than their effectiveness as carriers of meaning. This paper seeks to redress the balance and equip designers with a research-based understanding of how icons in user interfaces carry information to their users, and how an icon’s interpretation can be influenced by the interplay between • the icon itself • its immediate context in the interface and • the previous experience and preconceptions that the user brings to an interaction. The paper draws on the contributions of HCI, design and branding research, some quite historic but, nevertheless, relevant today.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Typography & Graphic Communication
ID Code:66562
Uncontrolled Keywords:Icons, design, interaction design, user-centred design

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