Saturday, February 26, 2005

Picturing a Market, Round 2

I earlier posted some draft icons for the Simon Exchange, and got some very helpful comments. So that you will know that I took those comments to heart, and in case any of you care to offer further suggestions, I'd like to run some revised icons past you. And, in case you're tired of that graphical challenge, I'll also add a draft logo (a text mark that incorporates graphical elements). This time, though, I'll remember to use white backgrounds rather than transparent ones. Also, I’ll number the icons for your easy reference.

Last time around, this icon pretty clearly came out on top:
icon #1

Nonetheless, several commentators had suggestions about how to improve on what I'd suggested. In response, I've tweaked the colors of all of these second-round icons to make them closer in value (lightness and darkness). Here's the above icon in the new colors:

I thought I ought to try packing the lines in more tightly and loosely, just to make sure that I'd hit the right density. These two icons explore those options:
icons 3 and 4

I wasn't satisfied, though. Those designs look pretty busy, as some of you noted. My research assistant, Greg Newman, observed, "Anything above two is perceived as 'a multitude,' so three lines ought to work as well as five." I tried that and liked it. Here are three icons based on that somewhat more minimalist principle, in differing densities:
icons 5, 6, & 7

I like the #6 the best, though # 7 comes in a close second.

From this point on, I will probably lose some of you. Few people seemed to like the result when, last time around, I tried adding extra graphical elements to the center of the icons. Granted, most of those designs went over the top. Personally, though, I find even the best of the unadorned icons above lacking in something. They lack focal points, resting points, centers of interest . . . in short, my eye slips off them too easily. That is why I prefer these very modestly accented icons:
icons 8&9

(I oriented them vertically because they look disconcertingly like a face when side by side.) Of those two, I prefer #8.

Before you head to the comments to give me your own two cents, let me also give you a logo to chew on. I've set it next to my favorite icon from above so that you can readily see how the modified font echoes the icon's elements and colors:
draft logo

OK, my constructively critical friends, have at 'em!


Glen said...

#7 is the best of those shown.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I love the layout and type used for 'Simon Exchange.' I especially like the different color and symbols used for 'i' and 'x'. Three strands look much better than the five; it's simpler. You know, I didn't like the dot in the middle initially, but as a complete graphics logo, it doesn't look bad. Maybe the inner black circle can instead be outlined orange and blue but not filled in? So essentially 1 orange line and 1 blue line encircing one another inside the white circle, or 1/2 blue and half orange meeting but again, not filled out like the black dot.

But I like it.

Anonymous said...

I like the simplification to three lines from five. I still don't like the busy stuff at the intersection of the crossing lines. The complete logo looks nice, too. I like the way you reflect the ! and the X from the icon. If you want to keep the target at the middle of the icon, you might try representing that in the O of the logo. I still don't think that will turn out better, but that's a way to pull that piece of the icon into the logo as well.

Anonymous said...

Though your point about a "focal point" is well-taken, I'd strongly advise you to dispense with any icons in the center and stick with the crossed lines alone.

Unfortunately, icons #8 and #9 offer the optical illusion of the start to a hooked cross. The Irishman in me wants to see the St. Bridgid's Cross, but sadly the swastika element can't be overlooked.

I don't want to see it there, but I do. It's only safe to conclude that there are those who may want to see it (and thereby accuse you of something nefarious), and will. I'd hate to see a great idea like the Simon Project get bad publicity just because of an optical illusion.

Contact me if you don't see what I'm seeing.

Glen Whitman said...

I didn't notice any resemblance to a swastika, though looking back I can sort of see what Brian is saying. You could possibly avoid that problem by braiding the exclamation points instead of having cross only once.

I didn't like the center icons in the original versions, but I think they're okay now that you've decreased their size. The reduction in the number of exclamation points from 10 to 6 is also very good.

Anonymous said...

I'm not wild about the exclamation point in the text. It doesn't seem to be properly parallel with the x--the "i" is differenced by being replaced by a symbol and by having its color changed, while the "x" only has its color changed. I think it'd look better if the "i" were still an "i", but with the color. (I might change my mind entirely if you followed one of the other suggestions and used the bullseye for the "o", I don't know. It's unbalanced as it is though.)

As for the logos themselves, I definately prefer the three-line versions over the five, and the spaced versions over the unspaced. Of those, I think six looks the best--I don't particularly like the bullseye versions.

Tom W. Bell said...

Thanks, everybody, for those helpful and cogent suggestions. If I were to walk away with one lesson, it would be: Simpler = Better. Everybody seems to prefer the 6-line versions to the 10-line ones, and most people seem to prefer the icons without the decorated centers (though most also seem willing to grudgingly go along with the dots, now that I've simplied them).

I know what you're talking about Brian. I figured that the moderate risk you describe was worth it, though.

Glen said...

I like #7 because of the negative space - there's a large enough chunk of background in between to clearly distinguish one line from another. I don't like the bullseye - still too busy. I love the font and color scheme of "The Simon Exchange" BUT I would turn the exclamation point upside down and make it look like an "i".

The trouble with "S!mon" is that I find myself wanting to pronounce the "!" as a downstep or some other liguistic weirdness. It makes me think of names from Ghana and hides the word "Simon". Rather, it parses like "S'mon" or "S*mon".

I think #7 would look fine with "Simon", but if you don't like having the "i" point up and the crossbars point down you could flip #7 on the vertical axis to match the "i" graphic.