Publication details [#9214]

Richards, Stephen, Philip Barker, Ashok Banerji, Charles Lamont and Karim Manji. 1994. The use of metaphors in iconic interface design. 8 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


Much of the success of iconic interfaces has occurred within application domains in which a consistent metaphor can be maintained. However, this approach can prove problematic when icons are designed for cross-cultural applications - where a generic metaphor can often prove elusive. Even when a suitable metaphor can be found the problem remains of developing icons (within a given metaphorical framework) for all the functionality that may be required. Within certain application domains this difficulty has been overcome by means of the parallel use of more than one metaphor. This is certainly true of iconic interfaces. This is certainly true of iconic interfaces to information delivery applications (where 'book' and 'travel' metaphors are relatively common). The universality of the book metaphor within modern culture and its relevance to many of the cognitive tasks involved in information delivery applications have provided the primary motivation for our adoption of this metaphor in much of our work. However, we have also used multiple metaphor techniques for certain types of application. In this paper we describe the inter-relationship that exists between icons and metaphors and discuss the problems of designing iconic interfaces that embed useful metaphors. Various case studies are used to illustrate the issues raised and some outline conclusions derived from our work in this area are then presented. (Stephen Richards, Philip Barker, Ashok Banerji, Charles Lamont and Karim Manji)