Further thoughts on Icon DesignAugust 5, 2007
Application icon design is a remarkably difficult thing to do. I’ve mentioned previously that a lot will depend on the applications function and the applications name. Some times the applications name is so far removed from the applications function that the icons become illustrative.
For example, my browser of choice is Firefox, however there is nothing about the name that describes the applications function. The Icon is an excellent illustration of the name and makes a brave attempt to illustrate the applications function by including a globe. There’s no denying that Jon Hicks is an outstanding and talented designer, the Firefox icon is beautiful as indeed is the icon for Thunderbird another of Jons designs that again tries to include something of the applications function. Each applications names are so far removed from the functionality of them that they may as well be called anything.
Another way you could attempt to describe an application by function is by metaphor – I think Acrobat is a wonderful name for the what the application does. The older icon however, says nothing at all, the newer one is lost in the homogeneous collection of Adobes latest offerings.
Craig Hockenberry has some interesting thoughts about icon design, bringing it down to important choices between shape and colour. Perhaps with application names being so far abstracted from their function it is the only thing left.