News: Ugh, It’s the Periodic Table

Posted on December 20, 2006

Remember in the old days of grade school (or maybe junior high) when you had to memorize the various elements? Often it seemed pointless and just a way for the flawed American education system to prove that you were learning science. I’m not going to get into the downfalls of rope memorization and all of that stuff, but I had a horrid flashback after checking out the things going on around the Web regarding Adobe’s future plans for Photoshop & Co.

Photoshop CS 3First, you’ve probably already heard that the Adobe has planned to ditch the somewhat iconic white square icons with various objects on them in favor of even plainer, colored squares with letters on them. The overall design screams Periodic Table, although “Ps” immediately reminded me of the web-shorthand turned regular spoken language, as in “P.S. Photoshop needs a new icon. But right now I’m going to dipset.”

Secondly, in my opinion, icons are not all that good to look at (they’re too clean and remind me of the various Microsoft letter-as-a-program icons), plus if you had a whole mess of Adobe apps, you’d have to remember what letter goes with what applications. It would take some time to learn. Most people associate a feather or eyeball with Photoshop right now. I think Adobe needs to read about what makes a good icon, instead of creating something that knocks the Dock out of balance because the icons are too “big”. Fortunately, people can replace them.

Photoshop 7, CS, and CS2What is nice is the under-the-hood changes Adobe has been doing. Swallowing Macromedia has been a bit of a challenge due to products overlapping, not to mention the die-hards who use products that were surely to get the boot. It looks like, thanks to Adobe’s graphical representation, that Fireworks is staying, Flash gets to keep its Macromedia-esque icon for the player and “Fl” as the actual program for creation, and Acrobat gets to keep its icon.

What is interesting is that it appears that ImageReady is doomed, and the reason that Fireworks gets to stay. Even more interesting is that it’s grouped in the same area as Dreamweaver, meaning that Adobe is going to color-code the icons, based on their purpose.

Okay, maybe you find this to be boring, but I really would have rather Adobe came up with some sort of “brand” for each product and stuck with it. Adium has the duck. iTunes has the musical note on a CD. Toast has a toaster. Apple’s video editors all follow the same theme. AIM always had the “running man” icon, and that followed to iChat so that you knew what it worked with. Now that iChat can do other things, that part of the icon was dropped, but people still are able to recognize iChat. These are immediately recognizable, as are most of Apple’s icons.

I guess what I’m saying is that, although the various Adobe icons as a whole work okay on paper, they don’t fit in well with the rest of the system. A “Creative Suite” should have creative icons, not something that looks like a placeholder, as many have said.

(Icons courtesy of Adobe)

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