Death of an icon

2 minute read

On Thursday we’ll be releasing a number of updates to the user interface of the Capture (where you manage your data) and Create (where you build your email and SMS campaigns) sections.

The updates are quite subtle but we hope that you’ll find that they make things quicker and easier to use. (Regular readers may be noticing a trend to this week’s updates!)

What have we done? In short, we’ve killed off most of the icons used in these two sections and replaced them with text links instead.

Here’s an example of the ‘Capture’ section before:

text-links-old

Here’s the new look:

text-links
Why have we done this? Because we’ve found that using icons for these functions means you have to think to understand what they do, when it should be instinctive. Even using Sign-Up.to every day, as we all do here, there was still the occasional pause to think ‘which icon do I need’ and that just wasn’t good enough.

We’ve tried out lots of different icons but none of them solved this issue for us (there really is no neat, unmistakable way of saying ‘Preview this campaign’ with a 20 x 20 pixel gif), so instead we’ve now reverted to easy to understand text links that should leave little doubt as to what they do. A little less colourful perhaps, but we hope you’ll agree that they’re a lot more useful.

Doing this has also allowed us to drop the key on the right of the screen and make better use of the available screen space to display what’s most important – your data.

You may well be thinking that this sounds familiar and yes, indeed, this is exactly the approach that we took to our recent redesign of the navigation used within accounts – by replacing icons with text descriptions we’ve made it easier to identify where you need to go to get what you want to do done.

We haven’t killed off icons everywhere, in some places they do serve a purpose and make interaction easier, but we’re now being a lot more selective about their use.