November 07, 2007

Floppy disk = SAVE

Right now I'm working on a SilverLight scheduling application for a 3-day event this January. I'm working on the "Save" functionality, where an attendee can store the itinerary of sessions they would like to sign up for. Most of the attendees for this conference are software engineers, architects and developers, probably familiar with the MS Office suite of applications where the Save button is a 12x12 pixel image of a floppy disk:

There is a lot of value in that image, since anyone who has used MS Office products, will intuitively recognize it as a save button, without a second thought. Lotus apps use the same symbol for saving, as well as many others. It's right up there with the red stop sign octagon, or the man/woman pictogram symbol on restroom doors when it comes to instant understanding of a graphic symbol.

But I'm sure there's a better visual representation of the Save function than something as obsolete as a 3.5" floppy - I mean I haven't had a floppy drive on my computer since 3 machines ago. Plus, why does a 3.5" floppy mean "Save" anyway?

The attendees for our conference are all familiar with software development, and one of the ubiquitous symbols in software application maps and network diagrams is the 3-D cylinder, which represents a database/datastore. So here's my thoughts on an equally intuitive Save icon.

For our application, that's exactly what we're doing - storing it in a database.

Another feature is the ability to email your itinerary to another attendee - again, "Email" functionality has been represented in multitudes of applications with the obvious envelope graphic, and that's such a simple, intuitive indicator that I wouldn't think of messing with that. We have a bit more graphical capabilities, so here's my treatment of Email functionality:

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