We have a website that provides downloadable items for users. Those downloadable items can be found under different articles and series. So not everything you might want to download is on the same page.

That's why we have an 'add to download list' feature. If you use that feature, everything you've added to your download list can be downloaded at once.

Since this works exactly like buying items on a webshop, I was wondering if it's a good idea to use the classic 'basket' or 'shopping cart' icon. Even though you can't buy anything.

  • I would not use a shopping cart icon because that already has a very specific meaning. If the website produced business content, for example, maybe I'd consider a briefcase icon. If the website produced food-related content, maybe I'd consider a basket. For something content-agnostic, I'd maybe consider a paperclip, collection, or batch icon. icons8.com is a tremendous resource for inspiration. – bsod Dec 11 '18 at 13:40
  • Why did this get downvoted? I've thought about different icons. It's a website that provides files for AutoCAD and Revit. Since it's all digital it's kind of hard to think of a related icon. – Gerlof Leuhof Dec 11 '18 at 13:51
  • The downvote wasn't me, but it might be because we don't do icon suggestions here. And your question gets pretty close to that. – Ken Mohnkern Dec 11 '18 at 13:57
  • You can consider renaming it and trying to find a more appropriate icon that way. For example, you can call it a download stack and the save button may be a stack icon (google image search "stack icon"). "Save this file to your download stack" is also implicitly quite clear. And then the "download stack" button where the user ultimately downloads them all is the same icon with a downward arrow on top of the stack. – bsod Dec 11 '18 at 13:59
  • As a user, I want to download an item using the link, so I get the item to my local PC. Are you sure you need a cart at all? What user's pain it solves? Why do you break the known concept of downloading? – Alexey Kolchenko Dec 11 '18 at 14:41

I assume that you provide items to download for free. Shopping cart icon suggests that items are prepared for buying. I believe a user will suspect that they will actually need to buy items.

I have a suggestion to implement it as a container in a side frame. You can call it a Collection or Favorites or Library or whatever.

enter image description here

Since collecting items and later downloading them in a bundle is not a very usual pattern, any icon may lead to misunderstanding. So I suggest releasing users from unnecessary wondering and make the bundle visible all the time. If space permits.

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  • It doesn't really answer my question about icon use, but I really dig the idea of the 'bundle' idea as a bar on the right side of the screen – Gerlof Leuhof Feb 6 '19 at 10:01

Personally I would use the cart icon since the idea if collecting items in a basket and perform a massive action on those is somehow included in the cart icon. Not only to buy them, but also to download them.

But I would have the same doubt as yours.

You could not use an icon but a DOWNLOAD button in which the text is updated when items are added to the list. Or you can use the "red dot" notifications over the button to indicate how many items are ready to be downloaded when the user will click on "Download"

Bye bye

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I recommend you to stick to convention and patterns and use the cart icon. Users seeing the cart icon instantly translates it to "That's where I put the products I want and check out". Much like a supermarket. The shopping cart logic instantly translates to whatever products whether digital or physical.

If you start playing with icons, users will simply either not find the cart (because it's not a cart and they expect the cart icon), or stop and wonder how your new icon behaves differently from a normal cart.

If you show an unconventional icon to someone, they will interpret it in infinite ways. A "Stack Icon" can mean database, server, stack of paper, layers, etc. The same argument applies to any non-conventional icon.

Here is an article talking about cart vs bag icons: https://uxmovement.com/buttons/add-to-cart-vs-add-to-bag-which-button-label-to-use/

Users aren’t just used to the word ‘Cart’, they’re used to recognizing the icon too. The shopping cart icon is distinct and unmistakable. A cart has a strong connection to shopping because it’s a common object used in stores. But the bag icon is easy to misinterpret. It’s not an icon that has a distinct shape or meaning. This makes users uncertain when they look at it.

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