Improving and Creating Computer Icons
You will learn about computer icons and have
the chance to make some of your own.
What are icons?
Icons are pictures that try to express an action
or a function. For example, you may have seen a box with a question
mark on one of your word processor's toolbars. The question mark icon
used in word processing software means "help." If you have a question,
generally you need an answer or some help. When you have a question
about the software, you can click on the question mark icon and get
information that may help you.
Using pictures to express messages instead
of using words is not new. For thousands of years, the Chinese have
used pictures to represent words. For example, in the Chinese language,
a square with a line drawn through the center means "middle."
Computer software programs use many icons.
Each icon represents a certain task the computer or a program will do
if someone presses that icon. Perhaps you have seen a scissors icon
on your word processor's toolbar? Clicking that icon will allow you
to cut text from a document. If an icon looked like an eraser, what
do you think its function would be? Maybe that icon will clear or erase
information? Can you see how icons make using computers easier for people?
The best icons are the ones that users understand
immediately. No one says when looking at those icons, "Hmmm, what does
that picture mean?"
Not every computer icon is so good that most
people understand its function as soon as they look at it. Perhaps you
have not understood every icon you have seen on a computer toolbar.
If so, your experience will help you in this Art Connection. In it you
will get to fix, or improve, computer icons that you think are not as
good as they could be. You will also get to create some new icons of
Let Me Try It!:
This Academic Connection offers you two activities
in the Let Me Try It!. We suggest that you do Part A, which allows
you to improve current computer icons, before you move to Part B, which
encourages you to create your own icons.
Let Me Try
It!: Part A
Let Me Try It!: