Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Icon If You Must

I frequently see web sites, online courses and PowerPoint presentations with an overabundance of animated GIFs and icons. Frankly, when it comes to cutesy icons and graphics of any kind, more is not better. Too much of anything can be distracting and unprofessional looking.

On A&E’s “Sell This House” TV show, one rule of thumb is “Less is more! When preparing your home for sale or an open house, minimize the amount of personal items that are on display. Excessive personal photos, trinkets and memorabilia will distract a buyer. Remember, the goal is to provide an environment where the buyers can picture themselves in the home for years to come.”

When you welcome a student (consumer of knowledge) into your course or to your web page (virtual home), the same principle applies. Eliminate clutter, don’t distract the “learner,” focus on what is important (e.g., the content you wish to pour into their brain). Always ask yourself “does that icon, animated GIF or graphic help convey or enhance the information the student needs to acquire or is it a distraction?”

Now that I’ve tried to talk you out of using animated GIFs and icons, here’s where you can find a collection of the little devils, if you insist on using them. Take a look at the very clean, professional icons at http://www.freeiconsweb.com/ but please avoid the cheesy stuff at http://www.graphic-station.com/.

Need more? Check out the very nice icons at http://www.iconarchive.com/ and http://www.freeiconsdownload.com/.

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