Mixed Signals

22 Aug 2008 - 12:20pm
6 years ago
9 replies
865 reads
John Gibbard
2008

Mixing iconography with religious symbolism.

An interesting article [1] from Swedish site The Local (published in
English) concerning the use of a pointed index finger on traffic signals .
where does this leave our ubiquitous hand pointer [2]

[1] http://www.thelocal.se/13872/20080822/

[2]
http://lh5.ggpht.com/_uvgFyH0uVeM/Rmkelro5nzI/AAAAAAAAAuU/FrQvjYQdb-M/web_ha
nd_mouse_www_click.jpg

Comments

22 Aug 2008 - 12:42pm
SemanticWill
2007

Very interesting, but I happen to have the book "Symbols -- Encyclopedia of
Western Signs and Ideograms" -- and I can affirm that the visual designer is
right - you would have to be a very thin-skinned secularist/agnostic/atheist
that fears religious iconography to ever think that a hand pointing up has
anything to do with deism - at least in from my book, there is no instance
of it ever being used.

On 8/22/08, john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk <john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk>
wrote:
>
> Mixing iconography with religious symbolism.
>
> An interesting article [1] from Swedish site The Local (published in
> English) concerning the use of a pointed index finger on traffic signals .
> where does this leave our ubiquitous hand pointer [2]
>
>
>
> [1] http://www.thelocal.se/13872/20080822/
>
> [2]
>
> http://lh5.ggpht.com/_uvgFyH0uVeM/Rmkelro5nzI/AAAAAAAAAuU/FrQvjYQdb-M/web_ha
> nd_mouse_www_click.jpg
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

22 Aug 2008 - 12:47pm
Santiago Bustelo
2010

>From the article:

1. "the image of a hand pointing upwards [encourages] pedestrians to
press the button before crossing the road"
2. "CEO Jan Lund told The Local that the company's signals point
the way to God".

What does 1 2 mean? My guess is that the message conveyed by the
pointing hand is "press the button before crossing the road, get hit
by a car, ascend to heaven".

Why pushing the button gives a green light to the pedestrian instead
to incoming traffic is left to further theological discussion.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32278

22 Aug 2008 - 3:42pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Will wrote:
> you would have to be a very thin-skinned secularist/agnostic/
> atheist that fears religious iconography to ever think that
> a hand pointing up has anything to do with deism - at
> least in from my book, there is no instance of it ever
> being used.

A few years ago I learned that on older gravestones in some parts of
the US, you'll find a hand with index finger extended and pointed
upwards. Representing "ascension to heaven."

http://tinyurl.com/65qols

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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22 Aug 2008 - 3:56pm
SemanticWill
2007

This is interesting b/c if the designer did not intend it to be
religious- then is it? Maybe the firm that hired him interpreted it
that way. What matters? Author intent? Reader interpretation?

will evans
emotive architect &
hedonic designer
will at semanticfoundry.com
617.281.1281
twitter: semanticwill
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: wkevans4
skype: semanticwill
_________________________
Sent via iPhone

On Aug 22, 2008, at 1:42 PM, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:

> Will wrote:
>> you would have to be a very thin-skinned secularist/agnostic/
>> atheist that fears religious iconography to ever think that
>> a hand pointing up has anything to do with deism - at
>> least in from my book, there is no instance of it ever
>> being used.
>
> A few years ago I learned that on older gravestones in some parts of
> the US, you'll find a hand with index finger extended and pointed
> upwards. Representing "ascension to heaven."
>
> http://tinyurl.com/65qols
>
> // jeff
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32278
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Aug 2008 - 3:58pm
SemanticWill
2007

I am not christian but if I saw an image of Jesus with one finger up I
might think the painter might we saying - there is one god- something
like that - or were number 1, or a Steve jobs thing like - and one
more thing....

will evans
emotive architect &
hedonic designer
will at semanticfoundry.com
617.281.1281
twitter: semanticwill
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: wkevans4
skype: semanticwill
_________________________
Sent via iPhone

On Aug 22, 2008, at 1:42 PM, Jeff Howard <id at howardesign.com> wrote:

> Will wrote:
>> you would have to be a very thin-skinned secularist/agnostic/
>> atheist that fears religious iconography to ever think that
>> a hand pointing up has anything to do with deism - at
>> least in from my book, there is no instance of it ever
>> being used.
>
> A few years ago I learned that on older gravestones in some parts of
> the US, you'll find a hand with index finger extended and pointed
> upwards. Representing "ascension to heaven."
>
> http://tinyurl.com/65qols
>
> // jeff
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32278
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Aug 2008 - 4:27pm
Vytas Gaizutis
2008

In the design of icons, a best practice is never to use a hand unless it's using a tool, such as a hand holding a pen or pencil, or involved in an action. In this particular case, the painted-on hand is disconnected from the physical button (one is an icon, the other a physical object), so it doesn't surprise me that the act of "pointing" could mean just about anything.

A hand or body part shown by itself will be offensive to somebody somewhere in the world. For example, a flat hand held toward the user means "stop" in the U.S., but in parts of the world it means "here's pop in your face". A thumbs up means "way to go" in the U.S., but is akin to flipping someone the bird in other parts of the world.

Eyes are no no's to. An eye by itself can be perceived as evil. Bare feet are offensive too. And forget animals. These are cultural interpretations, but we live in a multi-cultural world.

So the rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to simply avoid using body parts unless the are involved in an action where not showing the body part makes the icon weaker. In other words, if there is a clearer way to convey the icon's meaning without using a body part you should try to go that route.

22 Aug 2008 - 4:28pm
Vytas Gaizutis
2008

In addition, the button is a clear affordance. The hand isn't necessary. If anything, you may wish to show what pressing the button does.

22 Aug 2008 - 4:28pm
bminihan
2007

If I came upon the crosswalk in the photograph, my first assumption
would be that the finger is pointing in the direction the button will
affect: Press here to cross in this direction. If that's not what
it's for, why have an indicator at all? Isn't that the equivalent
of using "Click here" links on a web page?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32278

22 Aug 2008 - 4:41pm
Vytas Gaizutis
2008

Apologies for the numerous typos. I clicked submit before proofing. Must...slow...down.

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