From a pure design perspective, a computer icon is used to help us navigate computer systems with whatever device we happen to be using. They are so much a part of the fabric and functionality of computer systems and mobile devices that we likely take them for granted.
These icons are an essential part of the graphical user interface and it should shock us when they escape the GUI! That’s right and the icons are not working alone. They have accomplices all over the world that set them free. What do you do with an icon that is running rogue?
I’m afraid this is the new normal where computer icons are concerned. My earliest recollection of computer icon development was when we moved from the Sony Walkman (Discman, MiniDisc) to the iPod. Icons normally reserved for a physical surface like a ▶ play button suddenly jumped into the graphical user interface and were captured. This was short-lived as the icons then jumped out again and in to TV ads, onto print ads and billboards.
It wasn’t unusual to see a cool, young model, with cool graphics swirling about them reaching out to touch a floating “play” button. This was fine, it was fantastical or magical as Steve Jobs would go on to tell us. So we slowly came to grips with these buttons in print form realizing that even if we pressed them … nothing was going to happen. It was a fantasy!
Jump forward to the present and tell me how many times you have seen a Twitter or Facebook icon in a print ad? Again, it’s likely you didn’t notice the sudden surge in their use and everywhere and on everything – nothing is off-limits! So my intelligent friend, did you try to press that social media icon in that magazine … with your finger? No little floating arrow handy to click on those icons. Responses fall into 3 categories:
- What do I do with these “buttons”?
- I get it, the icons aren’t much use to me because I can’t really click on them.
- I’ll just google “CompanyX on Twitter” … why on earth did they not put their Twitter handle in the ad?
With this I close. If you are going to use a computer icon in a print ad (or video for that matter), then you must put either the Twitter or Facebook address right there with the icons otherwise they are virtually useless. Are you the leader of a rogue icon posse?