Little pictures vs words: Different minds work different ways...

Idea created by ender on Nov 8, 2016

    Years ago, Filemaker began an insidious practice that I see is increasing with FM15.


    In the Inspector, the words at the top (Position/Styles/Appearance/Data) have been replaced by ...little pictures. So when I see these little pictures, I have to stop and mentally translate. "Let's see, there's a little dented circle with dots. That must be Appearance--no, wait. There's a little icon with a paintbrush. That must be where I assign colors."


    I understand why it might be easier to have a language-independent icon, but Both Are Needed.


    Many years ago my roommate expressed frustration with our stove--he kept turning on the wrong burners. He asked me if I had trouble. I didn't because each switch was labeled "Left Front", "Left Rear", "Right Front" and "Right Rear". So I said "No, I just read the words".


    His response:  "What words? I look at the pictures."

    My reply:  "What pictures?"


    He was looking--unsuccessfully, it seems, at the four little symbolic dots above each switch. The one black dot indicated which burner the switch was for. I'd never even noticed the dots. He'd looked right past the words--and incorrectly interpreted the symbols.


    Once I alerted him to the words, he stopped having trouble. There was no longer the need to mentally translate symbols.


    Obvious conclusion:

    - Some people look at pictures first. Others look right to the words. But most people must mentally translate the pictures into words.

    - Pictures cannot always replace a thousand words--or even one. They might work well at times, such as for Alignment--something that would be difficult to show with words. But anything more complex requires most people to stop and analyze.


    Filemaker, if you must use icons, please don't drop the words. I'm a words mind. If you start substituting little icons for everything, I inevitably forget or misinterpret their meaning and click on the wrong one.