Recently a user mailed me
“Its confusing as to what the icon is supposed to mean.”
He was referring to

crave 1

And suggested an improvement from Flickr

crave 2

Coincidentally Bret Taylor, former CTO of Facebook echoed something similar on Facebook.

Bret Taylor

Very often, designers implement new icons and symbols without thinking about it from the user perspective. As product designers we get deeply involved in the product buildup to a point that an emoticon like thing can often seem implicit. Why in the world would someone not get it? It’s so implicit to us that it’s never even a point of discussion or question.

In Cucumbertown’s case it’s the crave button. It’s so primitive an action that we overlooked it.


We never thought to question it.

Quite often, we work on something for so long that our cognitive senses are tuned to adapt. But this might not be the case with a first timer.

Yet. Yet… the top UX myth of all time is, icons enhance usability

The biggest culprit of a simple icon turning villain is the elevator at my apartment. You’d think how much more simpler can this get. Up to go up and vice versa, isn’t it?


Until you realize that people use this to “bring the elevator up” and to “bring the elevator down”. I often go from my top floor to the parking with switches in-between and peeps asking “Going up or down?”  Not amusing at peak hours.

Germany taught me something in this regard. If there is a need for someone to understand something, make it pictorial and explicit with words.


Make it explicit to a point

I have still preserved the old icon (without label) on Cucumbertown for the sake of making a point. But I think I’ve learnt my lesson. Perhaps, it’s time we all take a pledge?

Since you’ve come all the way down, can you tell what these icons mean? This is the Nexus 4 Andriod native camera app screenshot.


Image Credit: Tillmann Bielefeld