EXERCISE 3.10 [extra - not in book]
The aim of this project is to encourage
you to think about some of the problems involved in
providing clear, unambiguous interfaces, even to familiar
applications. It also helps you to begin to evaluate
designs critically. You should draw on your knowledge
of human cognition and of interaction styles, but
you do not need to use any particular modelling or
The design brief
You are part of a development team charged with
producing a new drawing package. You have to develop
the full set of icons. This is a new product and so
there is no set house style. It is to appear on a
new platform and so does not have to follow any particular
set of user interface style guidelines. The platform
usually supports colour on a high-resolution bitmapped
monitor, but icons must be suitable for use on black
and white as well as colour screens - design in black
and white first, then add colour. Text can be used
if required. Each icon needs an unselected and a selected
The following is a list of all the functionality
required: you may choose a form other than an icon
to provide the function but you should justify your
- freehand draw with pencil
- freehand draw with paintbrush
- smoothed freehand drawing
- draw rectangular box
- draw round-edged box
- draw ellipse
- fill or shade items
- move or resize item
- write text
- draw irregular polygon
- draw straight lines
- draw arc
- scale object
- rotate object
- edit shape
First, think about the problem, and possible
solutions. You can choose to draw on your experience
of other systems if you wish, (but remember that the
developers of the new package do not wish to become
engaged in law suits over copied designs!).
Next, sketch your designs as clearly as possible.
Using graph paper for this part will make it easier.
The icons should be designed on 64x64 grids. Use colour
At this stage, ask someone else to assess
your designs (fairly and honestly). (Mark them clearly
with their associated functionality.) Look critically
at your work yourself and try to identify what you
think are good designs, and, most importantly, why.
Use the following questions to help you:
- is the meaning of the icon clear?
- is colour used sensibly and consistently?
- will the icon's meaning still be clear
in black and white?
- what is the overall effect of the
icons when viewed together?
- how original are the designs and is
the originality effective or simply novelty for
Make any adjustments you think necessary
to your designs.