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The power of symbol(ism) in Design Transforming The Video Experience – one icon at a time

Ranya Amirthamanoharan and Marko Krstic
 May 2017

Nothing has made me realise the importance and power of symbols quite like being an immigrant. Navigating through airport terminals, subway stations and grocery stores when you don’t understand the local language is very difficult. Without pictures, I would have gone into the wrong washroom, ended up on the wrong plane, or worse, purchased the wrong type of ice cream. Note: Sweden has liquorice flavoured ice cream, one can never be too careful.

This has made me appreciate how important pictorial design is for user experience and the importance it plays when a new user needs to accomplish a task, such as navigating their way throughout a video setup menu.  Usability tests are an important step of our design process and here is one we created to determine which icons best communicate their function.

We had ten different titles we wanted to represent with icons. Our design guru, Marko Krstic, designed three different icons for each category. Next, we created a survey and released it into the wild. The survey showed all three options, in random order, and the participants were asked “What happens if you click this button”, or “Which one best represents FAQ?”. Participants were also given a free-field response of “Neither: __________” where they could make suggestions.

We analysed the results and have found statistical significance for some icons, but not all.


1) Which icon best represents FAQ?


  1. A)
  2. B)
  3. C)


Answer: according to our results, C is the clear victor.


2) Now, which icon will lead you to “All Series”?


  1. A)
  2. B)
  3. C)


Answer: B is by far the most preferred.


3) For the following three icons, we asked users what they thought each icon represented: health, workout, strengthen, or free response.


Answer: the most common for each icon was “Workout”. In addition, when users saw all three icons and were asked “which icon best depicts workout?”, it was a three-way tie.

In the last example, I had strong biases to which icons I thought were the best. I was convinced that “Workout” should be depicted by a dumbbell, and not a heart. However, finding this three-way tie reinforces the idea that just because you have an opinion – it doesn’t mean that users will agree.

At Accedo, we aim to make UI/UX decisions driven by data, and whenever possible, we test our beliefs.


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