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Bit of an odd question, and I can't go into all the circumstances why I'm asking this, but anyway: would you find it confusing if a megaphone icon was used instead of a cellphone or telephone icon to represent the action of making a phone call and speaking to someone?

The megaphone does imply speaking out loud to someone, so in that sense it works, but on the other hand, it has no inherit meaning that indicates a phone call.

Would you find this stretched meaning unacceptable, or would you be o.k. with it?

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yes -- my first thought would be it was some kind of volume control. –  Pete Wilson May 21 '11 at 18:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, I would find it confusing.

For me a megaphone signifies multiple people will hear. At a stretch it could be a call to a speaker phone, two or three people, e.g. teleconference. I wouldn't expect just one person, or to be hearing any reply from them. Megaphones are one way.

"it's more, 'hey, you're late on this and we need to talk'."

If you used a megaphone icon for this, at some subterranean level I'd think you were using free clip-art/icon that you happened to have lying around, rather than that you were doing it for a good reason. A way to find a more appropriate icon is to think what tooltip it would have, and then look at the keywords in that.

I'd find megaphone for "you're late, we need to talk" acceptable if the application were free, or if the whole application had been deliberately and consistently designed with a humorous quirky feel to it.

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"...at some subterranean level I'd think you were using free clip-art/icon that you happened to have lying around, rather than that you were doing it for a good reason." Bingo. –  mg1075 May 20 '11 at 21:09

I would be confused.

"The megaphone does imply speaking out loud to someone..."

Correct.

"so in that sense it works..."

Incorrect. When did speaking aloud = telephone?

I have no frame of reference for megaphone = phone, and my wild guess is most other westerners don't. Challenging a user's likely perception can be a good thing - but it's dangerous and tricky to do.

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in the sense that when you use a telephone and when you use a megaphone, you are speaking out loud. Like I said, it's a bit of an odd question, but one I've been forced to ask. –  mg1075 May 20 '11 at 20:15
    
I get where you're coming from - for me it's simply a stretch. I didn't make that clear in my post. –  gef05 May 20 '11 at 21:06

I mostly pair a megaphone with announcing something loudly.

In your branding you might be expressing the people should talk loud and speak and what not, but in the day to day (which should always be taken into account when doing UI) people are not doing that kind of talking on the phone. They are having private conversations, both sad and happy, they are doing business, they are talking to their cat, etc.

Branding can express more emotions and tap into certain feelings and beliefs. But UI should blend in and consider the day to day use.

So in conclusion, no because it references being loud and/or announcing something and people may be confused or turned off.

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Thanks for the input. Considering the day to day use for this application, it's not a "let's have a nice chat", it's more, "hey, you're late on this and we need to talk". –  mg1075 May 20 '11 at 19:55
    
Ah interesting. Than I think it makes sense. –  jonshariat May 20 '11 at 20:01

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