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comment Is there any value in using “irrelevant” icons
You're right, and I'd certainly be wary of putting a "learning overhead" into a public-facing site, but as this is an intranet, I'm confident I can get away with it as they should be using this thing every day. I'm kind of inclined to think, "sod it" and make them think (yes, I have heard of that book) - ultimately they'll find the experience more rewarding, more fun, and a damn site quicker to use. Plus it would apease my aesthetic sensibilities if everything had an icon (they will of course have accompanying text labels too, as has always been intended).
comment Is there any value in using “irrelevant” icons
@kontur - if I could rebuild the whole thing from the ground up with beautifully (and logically) structured data in a shiny new database then I'd be a happy man, but I can't do that for legacy issues. Also, some of the sections are quite "unique" and don't really fall into what one might consider more usual categories so standard icon meanings aren't really relevant. Besides, I actually want to put in some daft icons somewhere if I can!
comment Should a “windows-desktop style” interface be recreated in a browser app?
@Jimmy - yes, the users will probably see browser chrome. The browser may or may not be run windowed/maximised/full-screen, its entirely up[ to the user. They will continue to have access to the normal Windows desktop and will most likely be running other applications such as Outlook, Word and Excel "behind".
comment Should a “windows-desktop style” interface be recreated in a browser app?
They're not really much like a Windows environment though, with draggable panels, "start" button etc. I'm talking more like this thing:!/example/desktop/desktop.html which I should imagine was built purely as a proof of concept demonstration and not really as a real-world example implementation.