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Literature on icon design

This is a list of the books and research papers that I've used as a reference along with a brief summary of their content.

A survey of icon taxonomy used in the interface design

Wang Hsiu-Feng, Hung Sheng-Hsiung and Liao Ching-Chih.

This research paper is a compilation and comparison of some of the most important icon taxonomy systems.

An empirical approach to the evaluation of icons

Webb, J. M., Sorenson, P. F. and Lyons, N. P. (1989). An empirical approach to the evaluation of icons. SIGCHI Bulletin. 21 (1). 87-90.

An article about potential ways for evaluating icons. 

Auditory icons: using sound in computer interface

Gaver, W. (1986). Auditory icons: using sound in computer interface. Human-Computer Interaction. 2 (2), 167-177.

An early study of auditory interface icons and how they might be classified.

Earcons and icons: their structure and common design principles

Blattner, M. A., Sumikawa, D. A. and Greenberg, R. A. (1989). Earcons and icons: their structure and common design principles. Human-computer interaction. 4 (1), 11-40.

A study of auditory icons or earcons, and how the same design and classification principles might be applicable for both visual and auditory icons.

Elements of Semiology

Barthes, R. (1977). Elements of Semiology. New York. Hill and Wang.

Barthes' very compact summary, of what he thinks as the key elements of semiology, is often considered as one of the fundamental writings about semiotic theory.

Foundations of Theory of Signs

Morris, C. W. (1938). Foundations of Theory of Signs. University of Chicago Press.

Graphic Design for Electronic Documents and User Interfaces

Ware, C. (2008). Visual Thinking for Design. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

Iconic interfacing

Lodding, K. N. (1983). Iconic interfacing. IEEE computer graphics and applications. 3 (2), 11-20. 

One of the earliest studies on the taxonomy of interface icons.

Icons at the Interface: their usefulness

Rogers, Y. (1989). Icons at interface: their usefulness. Interacting with computers.1 (1), 105­117.

Mistä symbolit kertovat -Taidetta pintaa syvemmältä

Väisänen, L. (2015) Kirjapaja, Helsinki. 

An art historic approach to the language of symbols. This is on my list of books to read.  

Marks of Excellence

Mollerup, P. (1997) Phaidon Press Limited, London.

Marks of excellence is really a book on trademark and logo design. However it presents a complex taxonomy system for their classification, which is very relevant to icon classification as well.

Pictograms, Icons and Signs

Rayan, A., Hubner, R. (2006) Thames & Hudson Ltd., London.

As the title says the book covers much more than just icons. The top level term being pictorial signs, which is to encompass both icons and pictograms.

Rockstar Icon Designer 

McInnes, K. Rockable Press.

This book by Kate McInnes is a good guide for someone  who is getting started in doing systematic icon design. It also offers a compact description of the history of GUI icon design.

Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language

Eco, U. (1984). Indiana University Press.

If You are looking for a semiotic approach to icon research, this is a good resource for You. Eco makes reference to and evaluates some of the most important theories in semiotics, and does it in his entertaining way. For practical purposes, a large part of the text is quite high flying and sometimes difficult to follow. Still there are many good practical points to be discovered even for less theoretic readers.

Signs, Language, and Behavior

Morris, C. W. (1955). Signs, Language, and Behavior. George Braziller.

Symbol Sourcebook

Dreyfuss, H. (1972). Symbol Sourcebook. New York. McGraw-Hill.

True to its name the Symbol Sourcebook is an extensive collection of symbols from different fields of life, science and industries. In addition to that it offers analytic approaches to what symbols are and how they are used. 

Universal Principles of Design

Lidwell, W., Holden, K. and Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design. Massachusetts. Rockport Publishers.

The book covers 125 design concepts that apply to a variety of different disciplines including graphic and user-interface design. The book doesn't go deep into the details of any of the concepts, but it is a good read for anyone working with design and usability.

Visual Thinking for Design

Ware, C. (2008). Visual Thinking for Design. Morgan Kaufmann.

An introduction to what visual thinking is, and how the human eye and brain function together in seeing and recognising visual patterns.



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