Common Icon Representations

by Luke Wroblewski January 8, 2005

In my original post about Icon Semiotics, I noted that a common visual vocabulary for application icons could help users identify features and functions without negatively impacting the “personality” of applications.

Through ubiquity, certain visual symbols have begun to develop meaning for end-users. Making use of these basic forms allows interface designers to take advantage of expectations built up through repeated viewing (in various applications and Web sites). These basic forms can be stylized for application branding (through custom look and feel) and combined to create new meanings. The following list shows a few basic symbols that can serve as building blocks for a common icon vocabulary.