Sometimes a Word is Worth a Thousand Icons

Take the Build icon in Visual Studio - what the heck is that meant to be? I’ve never known. But I know it’s the build icon. (OK, not a great example, as I always use the keyboard shortcut…unless my hand is already on the mouse. But it does illustrate that it really doesn’t matter what the picture looks like as long as it’s distinctive.)

We’re really agreeing here, because I didn’t propose text-only UIs. Buttons with text and graphics work best, as in your example.

…uh…except my example is just graphics.

I see no text next to the build button. (There’s a tooltip if I hover, sure, but then are you telling me there weren’t tooltips on the first set of buttons you posted?)

What version of Visual Studio are you running?

Oh, sorry, I was thinking of something else. Maybe I made the conceptual leap between “mousing over the icon once and associating the tooltip with the icon” and “having the tooltip text permanently next to the icon” too quickly.

Move along. Nothing to see here, other than a sea of undifferentiated pixels… :wink:

I think the thing that stands out about the text only menu would be these points:

  • Once you know the icons, it takes less than a blink to spot the one you are looking for and click it.

  • No matter how familiar you are with the program, you have to read every word on the toolbar left to right until you find the same button (for the Find button, that’s about 2-3 blinks).

As noted before, menus tend to only come on in context or when the user switches them on for a particular task, so for most applications they are not overwhelming. Yet, the new ribbon concept may suffer from a nasty problem - if the developer fails to estimate all the contexts correctly, will the command you need ‘right now’ be available?

I find the fuss all the more interesting because I am hampered by the same painful but simple usability issues multiple times a day that have remained unfixed since the Window 3.1 days: 1) the tendancy for the keyboard to spontaneously switch into overtype mode, semi-randomly and without warning, usually just by clicking on another paragraph in the document and starting to type, and 2) the insistance that the default (and sometimes only mode) of Paste is ‘with formatting’ despite the fact that this is almost never useful and often creates wierd formatting issues that can not be undone (paste as plain text should be default, in my view).

Am I the only one that think’s the Greeks are wasting a pretty good gesture on “here’s excrement in your face”? I haven’t been - is the faci-al* application of feces a common practice, or even idiom?

*f a c i a l is flagged as questionable content

Wonderful article - and quote. Here’s my appreciation of both: