April 30, 2004

Icon Comparison

300 Images From 1800 Sites

Fascinating page; the owner grabbed icons from different Fortune 1000, major shopping sites, etc. and pulled them together for comparison. What amuses me the most is the similarity... and the worst part is, I've made a few of these icons myself.

In college, I had a teacher who made us all build houses as part of a 3-D design class. We were to distill what we thought of as "house" down to the bare minimum and, theoretically, most essential parts of what signified a house... as he put it, it's "houseness". It was pretty interesting to see what I and a couple of dozen other people picked out as details for our house. They varied on details, but the essence -- a square/rectangle with a sloped roof and a door -- was with everyone.

This, I believe, is what constitutes an icon -- an image which represents a culturally-based "standard" for a given item. "House" becomes represented by a five-sided outline with a square in the lower half.

Why do we create icons? What is the magic behind the simplification and distilling of an image down to it's barest elements?

Posted by Ted Stevko at April 30, 2004 12:14 AM | TrackBack