Unfortunately there is always this conflict between clear-delete-close-cancel so these are the worst icons to have to position next to each other whilst still being able to determine which icon means what action.
The only occurrence of red amongst the icons should be associated with the
delete because this is the destructive action and should not be able to be easily confused with the other actions. A cross is best for
delete and it doesn't need a box.
clear is an action with a subject, try to include a cue as to what is being cleared (eg using the common magnifying glass for the search icon), this will help differentiate with the other icons
Cancel need to be differentiated by the fact that the
cancel might be undoing any changes made and therefore returning with no change, where as
close will save any changes.
I would actually re-interpret your need for
cancel to being '
accept with save' and '
close is like
Enter on the keyboard - accepting any changes made, and we can use some symbology from the popular return/enter key on a keyboard.
Close should not indicate any acceptance. I'm slightly uncertain about using the cross as it is visually related to
delete in this case, but either the cross (black) or the minus sign would suffice and with a box around it.
You have included delete as the second item, but actually because of the destructive nature of delete, I would ideally position it either:
- at least at one end to halve the likelihood of an accidental hit when going for either
- preferably further separated from the other icons completely
So here's the results after taking the above considerations on board: