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Imagery and Graphics > 255: Thou shall know the difference between similar, exa...

255: Thou shall know the difference between similar, example, symbolic, and arbitrary icons

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Commentary We adore icons. As designers, we help place them all around us. It is important to know that icons fall into four specific categories, and to understand the separation. Similar icons are usually very literal and use simple objects, actions, or concepts. Many road signs fall into this category. Example icons usually convey a complex action in a single image. They usually use an image that we readily associate with a larger range of activity than the image itself, like a plane for an airport. Symbolic icons are used when an action or concept can be conveyed with a recognizable shape and are more conceptual, as the image often doesn’t literally do what it is explaining, like a padlock for security. Arbitrary icons use imagery that must be learned to understand the meaning and bear little immediate connection to the concept that they convey. An obvious example is the icon for radioactive materials. JF


  

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