Usability - SIG, Spin, Echo icons [was Re: Icon theme for ubuntu]

David Nielsen david at
Thu Nov 22 10:17:06 UTC 2007

tor, 22 11 2007 kl. 09:36 +0100, skrev Martin Sourada:
> Well, they does not only look smaller, but they also are smaller - you
> have a wider view when looking at iso perspective than when you reduce
> to plain 2D head on perspective. When creating new icons we are trying
> to simplify the 22x22 sizes enough so they should be easily perceptible
> if though they are in the isometric perspective. 
> I don't see the problems you list, but it might be because I am only a
> half a metre from the screen (which has 98 DPI). The icons appear only
> less colourful after applying the filters, but the shape remains well
> defined.

I just walked away from the screen to see which icons would work at that
distance - I would disagree that you have well defined shapes to begin
with. I also remind you that having a strong black outline helps the
brain define the shape which is why the games icon appears to work so

> In 16x16 size all icons in Echo are done in the head on perspective and
> I have to admit they are usually harder to create than the perspective
> 22x22 ones... 

I would heavily argue that for usability and accessibility reasons, the
iso prespective needs to not be used for menu icons, they appear way to
small and you lose a lot of the shape that we rely on for pattern

> Yet, the isometric icons you'll mostly see on the desktop, in file
> browsers and in the main menus. The rest are either action icons or
> displayed at 16x16. And for action icons we does not use isometric
> perspective.
> The orientation was chosen by Diana and we just follow it, I cannot
> imagine how the opposite orientation worked better.

Why am I suddenly reminded of that old game Lemmings?

> We are aware of some of the problems listed in the article. That's why
> we decided to include 22x22 sizes as well. All new created icons should
> come in 16x16, 22x22, 24x24, 32x32, 48x48 and scalable sizes and should
> be optimised for these. The shape of the icons is the basic thing and we
> are doing our best to define it well while retaining more realistic look
> than tango does.
> I would much appreciate if you take some time and went through the Echo
> styling guidelines [1] and point out the problems that leads the icons
> to not being ally, or propose some additions. Save for the perspective,
> which we already agreed on (and because of the help of SVG versions it
> is far more easier to change styling of the icons than their
> perspective), we are quite open to changes.

To be honest, that sounds like a waste of time to me given that I spend
an hour typing up a mail with a list of issues for you and you replied
that you did not see them. You are really not making a good case for
Echo as being able or willing to change to adapt to the needs to the
visually impaired, I am more than will to accept that as your choice but
it will remain a strong argument against Echo as our default iconset.

- David
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