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Journal Article

Improving Icon Design: Through Focus on the Role of Individual Symbols in the Construction of Meaning

01 Jan 2013-Visible Language (University of Cincinnati)-Vol. 47, Iss: 1, pp 66
TL;DR: A study of the role individual symbols play on the construction of meaning from icons finds that the interaction of the right number of symbol for the referent, and a more apt combination of individual symbols for therefnt, can significantly improve theConstruction of an icon that communicates what was intended.
Abstract: Despite the fact that icons are widely relied upon for communication, designers have few principles to guide icon design. This paper reports a study of the role individual symbols play on the construction of meaning from icons. An experiment compared two sets of four icons, each made of a different set of discrete symbols. It finds that the interaction of the right number of symbols for the referent, and a more apt combination of individual symbols for the referent, can significantly improve the construction of an icon that communicates what was intended. The rules of thumb proposed here are applicable to construction of any visual communication that uses symbols.cons today are ubiquitous and utilitarian. They shimmy on iPhones, bounce on computer screens, spin on cable TV's, and hang out on restroom doors. Icons are useful because they facilitate succinct communication. While their form is simple, their comprehension can be extensive. Indeed, nearly all communication happens through the interaction of symbols. Icons, ancestors of the earliest known forms of writing, have been a functional part of daily life since the pyramids were built so why study them now?A sufficient reason would be that many icons are not understood as intended. The ISO (2007) and ANSI (2007) recommend 85% correct comprehension for all warning symbols. A 2010 USA Today article titled "One third of drivers can't recognize this idiot light" (Woodyard, 2010) reported that a tire inflation pressure warning icon mandated by law, was not understood by 60% of drivers: 46% couldn't even identify the symbol as a tire! Our own icon comprehension studies show depressingly similar results. Only eight of a set of 54 medical icons that were carefully designed to cross language and cultural barriers achieve 85% comprehension by subjects in the USA, and just 3 of those icons were comprehended at the 85% level by subjects in Tanzania. Indeed, fewer than 1 in 10 Tanzanians, many of whom had advanced medical training, could correctly identify 19 of the 54 medical icons. That's a failure rate of 90%.Despite the common failure of icons, little is written about how they work from either a theoretical or a practical 'how-to' perspective. Beginning with Dreyfuss' Symbol Sourcebook (Dreyfuss, 1972) there has been steady parade of books that exhibit the latest symbols and icons, but few if any of these tomes explain how visual symbols work or how they might be made to work better. That is the gap our icon research seeks to fill. This paper describes a research study that measured the impact different combinations of symbols have on the comprehension of four icons. Based on this we identify some patterns, sketch some initial hypotheses for how people construct meaning from symbols, and propose some how-to rules of thumb to guide the design of more effective icons.symbols and iConsBesides being ubiquitous and utilitarian, icons are significant objects of study. Icons have simplicity of form compared with many other communication materials whose visual forms are much more complex. Icon's lean visual form reduces interpretive complexity. Icons also tend to have a very definite intended meaning: the referent...This gives icons an established measure of comprehension success. Icons are typically created in a consistent graphic style. Since standardization efforts in the 1970's, notably the US Department of Transportation's commission of the AIGA to produce a standard symbol set, icons for a wide range of referents have followed the highly abstract round head and mitten hands familiar on restroom doors. Thus a wide variety of subject matter is available in a consistent visual style, facilitating study. While we are aware of one study that explores the effectiveness of this common style (Marom-Tock & Goldschmidt, 2011), similarity of style -however effective - has the benefit of reducing the number of variables in comprehension testing. …
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BookDOI
01 Jan 2016
TL;DR: The proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Design, User Experience, and Usability, DUXU 2016, held as part of the 18th Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2016, in Toronto, Canada, in July 2016, jointly with 13 other thematically similar conferences as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: The three-volume set LNCS 9746, 9747, and 9748 constitutes the proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Design, User Experience, and Usability, DUXU 2016, held as part of the 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2016, in Toronto, Canada, in July 2016, jointly with 13 other thematically similar conferences. The total of 1287 papers presented at the HCII 2016 conferences were carefully reviewed and selected from 4354 submissions. These papers address the latest research and development efforts and highlight the human aspects of design and use of computing systems. The papers accepted for presentation thoroughly cover the entire field of Human-Computer Interaction, addressing major advances in knowledge and effective use of computers in a variety of application areas. The total of 157 contributions included in the DUXU proceedings were carefully reviewed and selected for inclusion in this three-volume set. The 49 papers included in this volume are organized in topical sections on design thinking; user experience design methods and tools; usability and user experience evaluation methods and tools

29 citations

Dissertation
09 Mar 2020
TL;DR: The objective was to investigate the usability, accessibility and communicability of an inclusive teaching / learning platform for deaf students who are Brazilian Sign Language users, and the Visual Guide was developed, which confirmed the need for greater attention to the linguistic bias of the communicable of deaf sign language users in Virtual Learning Environments.
Abstract: This study was conducted within the intersection of three fields: Design Science Research, Distance Education, and the Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). The objective was to investigate the usability, accessibility and communicability of an inclusive teaching / learning platform for deaf students who are Brazilian Sign Language users. Driven by the limitation and lack of accessibility of Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), it seeks to promote the inclusion of deaf people in distance education platforms, improving the usability, communicability and accessibility of such systems. After conducting a Systematic Literature Review, it became evident that we lacked studies focused on identifying Human-Computer Interaction problems and on the development of assessment guides for the deaf using an approach sensible to the linguistic and cultural experience of these subjects. Design Science research methodology, which focuses on the development and performance of (designed) artifacts for solving problems, has been used. To achieve the objectives, data have been collected in order to find out the most limiting factors in a Distance Education Program through experiments with a group formed by 15 deaf Libras users to whom Portuguese is a second language. First, a mini-course was developed, whose activities consisted on studying videos in sign language and carrying out activities also in such language. Then, an experimental set was installed in each user’s home to conduct the data collection for the Case Study. Data collecting tools used were: eye tracking and emotion recognition tools, and participant’s brief history of schooling, community relations, and sign language mastery. The collected data indicated the need to improve the linguistic accessibility of the environment, providing parameters for developing products targeted at bilingual deaf individuals. One of the results of the study was the Visual Guide, which was later evaluated by the participants and which confirmed the need for greater attention to the linguistic bias of the communicability of deaf sign language users in Virtual Learning Environments. The results also point out that the context for language acquisition for the deaf should be well known for the purpose of developing Information and Communication Technologies suitable for the deaf audience, and that the architecture of courses in a VLE requires institutions and professionals to put an effort aiming at promoting inclusion. Other problems have been identified through data analysis, especially regarding linguistic accessibility in distance education programs, indicating the need to make tools more accessible to the deaf.

13 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Ros Dowse1
TL;DR: This article offers guidance in designing and reporting pictogram-based research, highlighting areas that are often problematic or inadequately addressed.
Abstract: Research describing the design, evaluation or use of pictograms for various health-related applications is receiving increasing attention in the literature. However, recent reviews of this body of literature have commented adversely on the overall quality of the research, highlighting problems with the pictogram design process, as well as calling for improvement in both the methodology and reporting of all aspects of designing, developing, modifying, evaluating and applying pictograms in practice. The heterogeneity in study design, as well as in the interventions and outcomes measured, prevents overall conclusions being drawn about the effectiveness of pictograms on comprehension and medicine-taking behaviour such as adherence and self-care. The reporting of such research should provide adequate detail to enable reproducibility and replicability of the research. This article offers guidance in designing and reporting pictogram-based research, highlighting areas that are often problematic or inadequately addressed.

8 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Taxonomies of related concepts and research methods, evaluation metrics, and other findings from this study can help to conduct verifiable ST-related experiments and applications, consequently improving the visual vocabularies of notations and effectiveness of the resulting diagrams.
Abstract: Numerous visual notations are present in technical and business domains. Notations have to be cognitively effective to ease the planning, documentation, and communication of the domains’ concepts. Semantic transparency (ST) is one of the elementary principles that influence notations’ cognitive effectiveness. However, the principle is criticized for not being well defined and challenges arise in the evaluations and applications of ST. Accordingly, this research’s objectives were to answer how the ST principle is defined, operationalized, and evaluated in present notations as well as applied in the design of new notations in ICT and related areas. To meet these objectives, a systematic literature review was conducted with 94 studies passing the selection process criteria. The results reject one of the three aspects, which define semantic transparency, namely “ST is achieved with the use of icons.” Besides, taxonomies of related concepts and research methods, evaluation metrics, and other findings from this study can help to conduct verifiable ST-related experiments and applications, consequently improving the visual vocabularies of notations and effectiveness of the resulting diagrams.

6 citations

21 Feb 2020
TL;DR: This article critically discusses the above issues and identifies relevant open questions for scientific research and provides concrete examples and practical suggestions for researchers and practitioners that aim to implement transparency-enhancing icons in the spirit of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Abstract: Lately, icons have witnessed a growing wave of interest in the view of enhancing transparency and clarity of data processing practices in mandated disclosures. Although benefits in terms of comprehensibility, noticeability, navigability of the information and user’s attention and memorization can be expected, they should also be supported by decisive empirical evidence about the efficacy of the icons in specific contexts. Misrepresentation, oversimplification, and improper salience of certain aspects over others are omnipresent risks that can drive data subjects to wrong conclusions. Cross-domain and international standardization of visual means also poses a serious challenge: if on the one hand developing standards is necessary to ensure widespread recognition and comprehension, each domain and application presents unique features that can be hardly established, and imposed, in a top-down manner. This article critically discusses the above issues and identifies relevant open questions for scientific research. It also provides concrete examples and practical suggestions for researchers and practitioners that aim to implement transparency-enhancing icons in the spirit of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

5 citations