Friday, November 9, 2007

Floppy icon = SAVE

Right now I'm working on a SilverLight scheduling application for a 3-day event this January. I'm working on the "Save" functionality, where an attendee can store the itinerary of sessions they would like to sign up for. Most of the attendees for this conference are software engineers, architects and developers, probably familiar with the MS Office suite of applications where the Save button is a 12x12 pixel image of a floppy disk:

There is a lot of value in that image, since anyone who has used MS Office products, will intuitively recognize it as a save button, without a second thought. Lotus apps use the same symbol for saving, as well as many others. It's right up there with the red stop sign octagon, or the man/woman pictogram symbol on restroom doors when it comes to instant understanding of a graphic symbol.

But I'm sure there's a better visual representation of the Save function than something as obsolete as a 3.5" floppy - I mean I haven't had a floppy drive on my computer since 3 machines ago. Plus, why does a 3.5" floppy mean "Save" anyway?

The attendees for our conference are all familiar with software development, and one of the ubiquitous symbols in software application maps and network diagrams is the 3-D cylinder, which represents a database/datastore. So here's my thoughts on an equally intuitive Save icon.

For our application, that's exactly what we're doing - storing it in a database.

Another feature is the ability to email your itinerary to another attendee - again, "Email" functionality has been represented in multitudes of applications with the obvious envelope graphic, and that's such a simple, intuitive indicator that I wouldn't think of messing with that. We have a bit more graphical capabilities, so here's my treatment of Email functionality:


Arnulfo Wing said...

From one of Alan's Cooper book. Why even have a save icon? According to him, we should open an application and if we make changes to it, the program should just save them automatically. Why prompting the user? Obviously, he argues that if you open the document, you intention was to modified the content. And if you didn't make any changes to it, then just close it.

With all of the current technologies now a days, this is possible to accomplish (dirty flag).

$0.02 thoughts.

danshultz said...

Good point... I really like some apps that just auto-save, like OneNote, Blogger - even though there are some apps I would never want to do that. Like PhotoShop - if you flattened all the layers in a document and it autosaved, you'd be screwed.

But I think this app could be a good candidate for auto-saving, even though the first time through, the user must sign up. (Are you volunteering to help with development?) :D