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Project Ocelot social changes: Icons?

Recommend Site Improvements

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Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 1:29pm Top

See this post for what "Project Ocelot" is. I ask that this thread be about the icons, not about the features. If we get distracted, it will be less useful for us all.

I have some problems:

1. I want to add some new features. New features require new icons.
2. I made most of the icons on LibraryThing. I am not a designer. Making them takes me HOURS. (That "cog" icon literally took me four hours.) And I don't think they're good. I'm *used* to them now, but they really aren't that good.

Some examples:

I am tempted to use the "silk" icons from famfam (link). They are well-constructed and very numerous. I don't need to hire a graphic designer (think paid membership hike) or doing it myself (think more ugly icons and nothing else getting done while I sweat over them). At the same time, I find them too "friendly" and maybe a bit small.

Here's are some of the silk icons, showing new functionality:

And here is a proposed tweak—the icons have gotten less saturated, and are lighter. I think they fit in more.


Jul 6, 2007, 1:34pm Top

Yes, the second one with the less-saturated colors is better. The icons are a little precious, but not horrible.

I really like the cog, btw.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:37pm Top

I know. I want that cog on my tombstone. I CAN make good icons, but it takes me forever. I know what good is, but I have to do it over and over and over again. I spend an hour making an icon and then realize in a flash that it's crap and sink into deep depression. For my wife's sake, I must stop.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:37pm Top

I like the cog, too. Good work, Tim! :-)

I prefer the bolder version. I'll take either one, though. No biggy.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:51pm Top

I prefer the fainter version. The pictures themselves are fine. I'm not picky about the actual pictures.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:52pm Top

As a Mac user, I get this really Windowsy vibe from the silk icons. They look a little... focus grouped. Or something.

Tim, it sounds like you suffer from exogenous iconic affective disorder. Talk to your doctor.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:57pm Top

I don't like the silk icons at all. I like icons you're currently using; they're simpler, clearer, and more iconic.

Jul 6, 2007, 1:57pm Top

Thanks, johnascott -- you nailed just what it was that bothered me about those icons.

(That said, if they have to be, the less-saturated version is a much better match to the overall look of the site.)

Jul 6, 2007, 2:00pm Top

I agree with message 7. Do not like the silk icons. Like the current icons.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:04pm Top

I also prefer the current ones. Keep any new ones simple.

As for the ones you are thinking of using, if you go with them use the fainter tweaks.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:09pm Top

If you go with new icons, please use the easier to see ones - the darker ones. My eyes have some trouble seeing the fainter ones.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:19pm Top

Can't you use some of both? Don't get rid of the cog or the pencil. Those silk icons are kind of bland, although I understand how sweating over icons isn't a good use for your time (or evidently healthy for your marriage!). Couldn't you have a create new LibraryThing icons contest? Give out some gift certificates? A little web fame. I bet there are some burgeoning graphic designers on LT that would like to have something in their portfolio that is being used on a major commercial site.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:19pm Top

We already rejected these icons once before, didn't we?

Jul 6, 2007, 2:21pm Top

I just like the binoculars for the watch list, it subtly (or not) implies stalking from a distance. hehe.

Personally as long as icons don't look like something for little kids and they make sense I'm happy with them.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:23pm Top

I think you could do a lot with the icons you already have and keep your sanity. Add as friend could be the current invite to group icon, and invite to group could be the same thing but with two people (which would just require adding a plus sign to the icon to the right of "users with your books"). Add to interesting libraries could be the same as the current add to contacts, and the other two could remain the same as they are now.

But if you really need new icons, I like Katissima's idea of a contest.

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 2:24pm Top

re 14: Oh, binoculars. I thought that was something from stonehenge with some extra stones on top. Like I said, I can't see that well :)

Oh, were you referring to the LT icon? I skipped over it and looked for the binoculars in the new set. The silk set.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:23pm Top

I'd love to have a contest, but asking people to design icons is tricky, I think. Icons need to be designed by one person to have the same feel.

I'm not wild about silk, but—and I'm not fishing here!—I really think mine are crap too. One thing I would note, by the way, is that while we're talking about the icons, the silk icons actually make the TEXT more important. I think that's a good thing.


Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 11:18pm Top

I really don't think your icons are crap at all. As I said before, they're clear and simple.

If you really want to emphasize the text, you can get rid of icons all together. I don't think adding bad icons is the best way to emphasize the text.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:26pm Top

Makes the text more important because the icons are hard to see? The text otherwise looks the same to me.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:33pm Top

I assumed that you would make a list of what icons you need and people would design a set. I counted less than a dozen. Of course, I have no idea how long that would take someone who is actually an artist...it would take me a month of Sundays! :) Pandora is having a poster contest.

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 2:35pm Top

If people don't like these—and it seems to me opinion is divided—what about this:

Then click it and get:

I hate the "explaining" in it.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:38pm Top

>21 timspalding: What if you make the explanation appear only the first time a user uses it? Then it's only one instance of explaining and it's over.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:39pm Top

Personally I like the others more than the expanding...

Jul 6, 2007, 2:43pm Top

My vote is for the icons (I don't hate the silk ones) over the expanding and explaining + sign

Jul 6, 2007, 2:43pm Top

Tim: we're readers. A little "explaining" (and this is very little) never hurt anyone.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:44pm Top

I still think it would work better to keep everything as is, except make "add to friends" the current "invite to group" icon and make the group one the same but with two people.

Jul 6, 2007, 2:53pm Top

I like the cog.

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 3:15pm Top

Tim: why not have a icon contest where people design icons for you? :D

"I'd love to have a contest, but asking people to design icons is tricky, I think. Icons need to be designed by one person to have the same feel."

ETA: a set of icons then.

Jul 6, 2007, 3:21pm Top


Jul 6, 2007, 3:22pm Top

Oh, that's me.

Jul 6, 2007, 3:24pm Top

> 30

Are you sure? It might be Agibail.

All of which has me wondering: has anyone ever seen Tim and Abby in the same room at the same time?


Jul 6, 2007, 3:28pm Top

While I don't have a preference in what type of icon, I much prefer them to be there than not. I don't like text only links.

Jul 6, 2007, 3:30pm Top

I don't like to have someone "accept" being a "friend".

I add and delete "friends" all the time. It just depends on what topics I happen to be interested in at the time. Today it's both the Hebrew language and Richard Brautigan books. Tomorrow it might be something else. I don't want to "accumulate" friends until I have a list of thousands of people!

Being "watched" sounds impersonal and more like voyeurism to me! ;-)

Jul 6, 2007, 4:15pm Top

Ignore the fact that they're not quite "in line."

Jul 6, 2007, 4:18pm Top

>34 timspalding: Well, I like 'em. They make sense and aren't too cutesy.

Jul 6, 2007, 4:27pm Top

>34 timspalding: I like it :D

Jul 6, 2007, 4:27pm Top

Heh, I think the add to watch list icon looks like a pair of pants.

Not that I mind.

Jul 6, 2007, 4:31pm Top

The trick is, they're mutally-exclusive options. You can't have a friend on your watchlist, etc. Ugh. I'm at wit's end.

Jul 6, 2007, 4:31pm Top

Depends on what kind of binoculars are in your closet...

Jul 6, 2007, 4:33pm Top

I don't know why they have to be mutually exclusive. I'd think if people didn't like the redundancy they would just delete their friends from their watch list themselves. And "interesting libraries" certainly seems different from friends; just because someone's my friend doesn't mean I think their library is interesting enough that I'd tell other people to look at it.

Jul 6, 2007, 4:36pm Top

Tim: How dare they be unaligned? ;)

P.S. Looks good to me, aside from the must-fix alignment; of course the other sets were fine too.

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 4:46pm Top

God, I'm completely stopped. I don't know what to do. (tim)

Jul 6, 2007, 5:03pm Top

>42 ablachly: Sleep on it and remember the farmer and the donkey.

Jul 6, 2007, 5:34pm Top

Tim ...

Why not have an icon contest? Over on LiveJournal there are a bazillion (well, maybe a half bazillion) mood themes which were created and donated by LJ users. I'd suspect that there is at least as much graphic talent kicking around LibraryThing, and many who would love to knock out a set, if given a general list of what was needed!

Jul 6, 2007, 5:53pm Top

42: You could, oh, read. Or sleep. Or pester Abby and Altay. Or implement massive amounts of feature suggestions. Or post in the blog. Or twitter.

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 6:09pm Top

Not really Abby. I need to be her because i'm playing with friend functionality. I already sent out two stray invitations to be my friend...

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 6:12pm Top

In general, I much prefer your bold, yet simple icons over the Silk icons. The only one I don't care for is the non-parallel binoculars (which do look like a pair of pants). On the other hand, your blog cog is priceless.

For the add, you could leave the plus icon followed by:

Add to friends/interesting libraries/watch list

Jul 6, 2007, 6:16pm Top

Ugh. That was what I started with...

Maybe it should be pants. Secret people you'd wear the pants of. That's like a watch list, right?

Jul 6, 2007, 6:17pm Top

For the watch list, I was thinking maybe... the flaming eye of Sauron?

Jul 6, 2007, 6:18pm Top

Maybe I want to *be* Abby.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:18pm Top

pro account?

Jul 6, 2007, 6:28pm Top

... I secretly think the original binoculars look like a pair of bellbottom pants so there! :p

P.S. I'm going to be one of the trend buckers and say I like the Silk icons, I just find them more modern and appealing. :)

Jul 6, 2007, 6:29pm Top

Paid -> pro. "Paid" is so mercenary. It was just our internal name for it—showing our true interest, filthy lucre?—and it got printed and we never changed it to what we wanted.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:29pm Top

AndrewB is officially voted off the island.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:32pm Top

Jul 6, 2007, 6:33pm Top

> 53

I don't like "pro account". "Paid" may sound mercenary, but "pro" makes it sound as though you're a professional librarian. (I have a "pro account" at Flickr.com, and I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud, as though I should put on my profile, "No, honestly, I just do this for fun! It's my sister who makes a living doing this.")

Jul 6, 2007, 6:35pm Top

Oh but Tim I do love your cog, no-one can draw a cog like you! :p

(Actually I do like the cog, but think the current icons don't "gel" with each other...they just don't all have the same feel to me).

Jul 6, 2007, 6:37pm Top

I also prefer "paid". It's honest.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:40pm Top

58: I think part of it is some icons use black outlines and relatively flat colors, while other icons have shading and light sources.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:41pm Top

I like the existing simple icons. The "pawn" heads are great: easy to see, intuitive, classy. The pants-binoculars are a little odd, though. I like the Eye of Sauron suggestion! After all, Tolkien is #4 on the LT top authors list. If not Sauron's, then a simple "almond with two concentic circles" eye would be better than the binocs. But whatever you do, PLEASE keep the pawns.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:43pm Top

60: I think that's why I like the cog - it has a slight gradient effect if I'm seeing correctly. Whereas the other icons are just...flat :)

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 6:51pm Top

Beside the pants, the only icon I don't like on the site is the Power Edit icon, just because it's so small I can't actually tell what it is. A pencil crossed with something, I think?

I also have to come out against "pro". How about "Sponsor"? Upgrade to a "Sponsor Account"... Sounds perhaps less mercenary--though I'm not entirely convinced that "paid" is bad to begin with--and also fairly classy, without the misleading sound of "pro".

Or "Donor Account"
Or "Site Supporter Account"
Just not "Pro Account", imho

Jul 6, 2007, 6:49pm Top

The cog is painterly, almost Flemish in affect.

Jul 6, 2007, 6:55pm Top

62: See the "Upgrade to Pro" green icon. ;)

Edited: Jul 6, 2007, 6:58pm Top

I think even something like Premium Account (used in some other sites) sounds better than Pro which is just sort of random, but I agree that Paid was fine as it was...

Getting back to the icons, I like all of the original ones. The only thing I think is strange is that the original icons don't match each other very well. The plus sign is bright yellow, then the binoculars are brown and black, and the pawn person is light blues; all of this is on a green background. In the end though, I think the current icons are good enough that they don't need much work.

Edited to add: 63> The Power Edit icon is a pencil with P on the left and E on the right from what I can see.

Jul 6, 2007, 7:24pm Top

Thanks Kira, How did I not get PE? It's just so small. I like Premium Account, too. It suggests the "added value" you get in exchange for paying--here, the unlimited catalogue size. Good suggestion.

As for the unity of the icons, I think the fact that they are all pretty simple, even utilitarian, with just a slight shadow behind them is pretty unifying. They get the idea across the same way that restroom icons direct us the the mens' and ladies', or highway signs indicate H for "hospital", or sharp curve ahead with an arrow. When icons go too far beyond basics, they lose their impact and usefulness.

Jul 6, 2007, 7:28pm Top

>(Actually I do like the cog, but think the current icons don't "gel" with each other...they just don't all have the same feel to me).

I totally agree. They're a hodge-podge. Silk may not have the right feelf or LT, but they sure as hell gel.

>The cog is painterly, almost Flemish in affect.

I painted it from life. A nude. Then I made some adjustments.

>not matching each other

Double agreed. Frankly, one big problem is that I lost most of the Photoshops for these icons when my hard drive crashed. They're practically the only important thing i store locally now. Anyway, they're hard to redo.

Jul 6, 2007, 9:10pm Top

Somehow Pro account sounds to me like accounts for organizations, not individuals.

Jul 6, 2007, 10:00pm Top

Yeah, there's an LibraryThing employee revolt over the term too.

Jul 6, 2007, 10:01pm Top

I'm getting on board with the #46 icons, they look like the ones we have now. And of the silk icons, I like the color-saturated ones the best, they're easier to see.

Jul 6, 2007, 10:22pm Top

I propose that we found an Order of the Blog Cog to foster the enrichment of icons until they become worthy to stand next to said cog.

Jul 6, 2007, 10:37pm Top

Oh, please stay with paid account rather than pro. It's a paid account because you have paid for it as a opposed to the free one. KISS.

I prefer the simpler icons to the twee-looking silk ones.

Jul 7, 2007, 1:33am Top

Pro--sounds like wrestling or golf :) Besides, I would hardly call the price of a lifetime membership mercenary. It will probably confuse all the old members who have paid for their memberships.

Jul 7, 2007, 1:56am Top

As there's two types of paid (one year $10) and lifetime ($25), I recommend the former should be described as yearly instead of 'paid', and keep the $25 as lifetime.

Jul 7, 2007, 2:01am Top

That's a good suggestion.

Jul 7, 2007, 5:40am Top

I much prefer the existing style of icons over the silk set. It didn't register with me at all that they don't 'match'.

Edited: Jul 7, 2007, 8:40am Top

Agreed about msg #75. When I was reading the posts about what to call it, I kept thinking that if the meanings haven't changed, why not just leave them Yearly and Lifetime. Seems obvious to me and wouldn't confuse matters by people wondering why they're not listed that way anywhere else.

ETA - oh, and I don't really care about either set of icons, after the first viewing my eyes just sort of skim over them because my brain has already absorbed them and what they do. Just nothing cutesy, please. The silk set verges on cutesy, but doesn't actually make my teeth start to decay. Tim's icons are no where near that and are fine. I particularly like the way the blocked icon person almost looks like s/he's wearing a seat belt! : )

Jul 7, 2007, 9:15am Top

I much prefer text, and don't pay much attention to icons. That definitely puts me in the minority. (Maybe I shouldn't be weighing in on something I am going to ignore either way. But I won't let that stop me.)

Existing icons as in >46 ablachly: are fine. The silk icons are just too cutesy; they look like something intended for children.

I am glad to know that I was not the only one wondering what pants had to do with private watch lists. But the silk icon looks even less like binoculars. That's why I prefer text.

Jul 7, 2007, 10:41am Top

I like #46 best, with one suggestion. Instead of just the plus sign for adding libraries, how about some books and a plus sign, the way you have a person and a plus sign for adding (sigh) "friends."

But, having said that, I mostly just read the text; the reason I prefer these icons is probably because they're less obtrusive (or maybe because they look familiar).

Jul 8, 2007, 2:17am Top

For OP- The new-proposed icons look okay... Smaller then my eyes care for, but whatever. But the fainter ones I can hardly see! Please, for the sake of the eyesite-impared among us, use the darker ones!

46- love them! The best yet I think. Bold, simple, easy to understand.... niiiice.

I echo the "nay" for "pro"... sounds like I'm a professional librarian or something. I like paid, or even something someone else suggested... just not pro.


Edited: Jul 8, 2007, 8:58am Top

Pro = professional to me.

Paid is fine, or yearly. Or how about Annual and Lifetime?

And why couldn't the text next to the icon just say "Upgrade account"?

For watching, how about a Sherlock-style deerstalker hat? (But I'm ok with the trousers.)

Edit: I'm on a roll with typos. More coffee!

Jul 8, 2007, 9:09am Top


My mother used to keep citing what she claimed was a Latin maxim: "Pecunia non oleat est." (Spelling my guess.) Translated "Money does not stink."

You might want to do all of this work for the love of it, but you do have to feed Liam, and buy books for him.

Go for it. Why not a $ next to "upgrade'? :-)

Jul 8, 2007, 9:18am Top

Message 3 - Tim, you might want to try CBT, which is short for cognitive behavior therapy.

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