App IconsIn various versions of our Thai Dictionary app and some other apps, you may have noticed that we tried out several icon designs:
Some people ask us what the icon means or where the design comes from.
When Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand shipped our first paper three-way Thai-English-Thai dictionary and our first software three-way Thai-English-Thai dictionary (on Windows, iOS, and Android), we used the familiar ying-yang-yong icon to symbolize that the products were three-way (meaning everything is in English, Thai Script, and Thai Sound Pronunciation guides):
Later on, we expanded our app and paper product line in two different dimensions:
So we adopted this visual scheme for the icons:
The new scheme worked well for helping people recognize and make sense of the product line, but there were downsides:
So we brought back the colorful ying yang yong for the phrasebook and dictionary products (it would not make sense for the "For Beginners" products since they are not three way, and also there is no historical precedent which motivates the change as explained above). But we stuck to the pattern as well:
Yup, some of the icons get quite crowded, but as you can see there is a functional purpose in mind.
We gladly welcome any and all ideas for cleaner alternate designs, but those designs must fulfull the functional goals above. In particular it's really hard to come up with a visual symbol that clearly says "dictionary" (big reference volume) vs "phrasebook" (small pocketbook). That meaning typically gets lost entirely if one also tries to use icons with modern minimalist design. Finally, Apple and Google both forbid us from placing textual words in our icons (obviously, many vendors in the store have gotten away with this, but Apple can and does frequently reject apps that have text in their app icon), so that means we cannot just write "DICT" or something, not to mention the fact that sometimes the icons are presented super-tiny and most words would be illegible anyway. As you can see, it's a challenging set of constraints.
Send any suggestions that address our functional goals above to firstname.lastname@example.org