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For example, in a shopping cart, I may buy this purchase for myself ("me" / "myself" icon), as opposed to gifting it to someone else (box with bow-tie icon). What is the ideal icon to represent ME?

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Isn't this just the default option? Therefore you don't need an icon (or am I missing something). –  ChrisF Jul 19 '11 at 21:22
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Ah - you want "buy for me" and "buy as gift" as two actions, rather than "buy" and then "this item is a gift" later in the process. –  ChrisF Jul 19 '11 at 21:45
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@jonshariat, that's actually a legitimate solution, i'd +1 if you posted it as an answer. –  Anson Kao Jul 20 '11 at 1:37
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Is it likely people will be shopping for themselves and someone else all the time? Or is the gift option more the exception than the norm? If so, I'd say you only need an icon for the gift item, as that's the exception. –  DA01 Jul 20 '11 at 2:18
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@Rahul - keep the question here at UX because although the question asks for an icon, I think there is the broader question of whether a 'myself' icon is even needed. i.e. whether the option to buy for someone else is just a branch to the 'standard flow' rather than needing to be presented as a pure A or B forking choice ('scuse my language!) –  Roger Attrill Jul 20 '11 at 7:21
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closed as not constructive by Benny Skogberg, JonW May 19 '12 at 9:41

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5 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

I don't think you need two icons. The default action is "buying for myself." "Buying as a gift" is an additional check.

Amazon

Amazon does this and I think it's much simpler and intuitive.

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+1 This method is great. Much simpler. –  Matt Rockwell Jul 20 '11 at 14:43
    
The more I go through this problem and everyone's responses, the more I am agreeing with this angle –  Anson Kao Jul 20 '11 at 16:43
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I would say +1 for providing screenshots but I don't have enough reputation yet -_- –  Anson Kao Jul 20 '11 at 16:43
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You may just want to consider using text labels instead of icons. Very few icons are universally known - most require a second or two of parsing. Using tags in a smaller lighter text next to product descriptions might be the most practical solution to your quandary.

However, if you absolutely need to use an icon, you could do something clever like take a generic head icon and insert either the recipients initials in it, or just say Mine! in text underneath.

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Strictly speaking the term icon is over generalised, and what are used are signs which are split into icons, indexes, and symbols. Icons are by definition something that are universal representations (e.g. a photograph of a mountain is an icon of a mountain) though the meaning that the icon is intended to impart may be more ambiguous... –  Splog Jul 20 '11 at 8:44
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The most intuitive icon of 'me' would be a picture (or an avatar selected by them to represent themselves) of the person. So for example if your sign in was associated with Facebook, you could use their profile picture.

I'm guessing this isn't a practical response though, so I would agree with other responders to say that you're probably better off as leaving it blank/generic (yet distinctive from other images) as a default option and use text as appropriate. For most sites and most shopping behaviours the default of not needing/wanting gift options will be appropriate.

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Steam, a digital download games shop, shows both options on the cart view. The options are "Purchase for myself" and "Purchase as a gift" as buttons. I prefer this over checkboxes in this case as it has a deeper meaning in Steam as you can choose the recipients user account so the game gets added to them directly.

Steam image

When it comes to a "me" icon not even Facebook has one (they use a text "Profile" link instead), but I think a generic silhouette would work as that's what you're used to represent yourself until you upload a picture on any site.

silhouette image

Since this is about shopping (i.e. money is involved), I would probably spell it out rather than having two different icons. Maybe an icon in a button with the texts "myself" and "gift" would work.

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Welcome, John-Phillip! If you upload the image somewhere and post a link, we'll inline it for you. –  Patrick McElhaney Jul 20 '11 at 13:31
    
Thank you! I've uploaded both here: seriema.net/temp/steam.jpg seriema.net/temp/silhouette.gif –  John-Philip Jul 20 '11 at 13:43
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If you have OpenID integration, facebook, or Google log in, you can use their own image from their profile to not represent, but actually show clearly that you are talking about them.

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