This problem is not new to me.

An user can have multiple interests, so he will check some items that is presented to him. For this example. Ten items of interest. So he will mark as interested in soccer, music and news. Three items that are presented in the default list by the wep app (icon+text).

Each item has a symbol associated. Like this

enter image description here

But now the problem. The user wants to create a new item of interest: Cycling. So, the item has no icon associated. All the other default items have a similar design (icon+text). This is not a problem when the new tag is just text, but how about the icon?

It is a very difficult and laborious task maintain the visual similarity in a hypothetic big number of icons. And the problem of delay between the tag and the new icon is another issue.

Or should I permit the update of images without concerns of design, but with a validation of the text and image associated? Or Should i use just tags like stack sites?

2 Answers 2


I think that you should:

  1. Think about generic icons ('cup' for sport activities, etc), i.e. let your icons to be a category image and not a certain interest image. It will allow you to cover more interests with less number of icons.
  2. Use labels and colours in addition to generic icons to visually differentiate interests, i.e. let users choose generic icon and then label it ("cycling") and (possibly) let your users choose a colour of an icon (from a predefined set of colours).
  3. Provide an initial set of icons, watch for users, gather statistics on popular interests and add icons for them later.

I think that, considering that the number of icons required would be potentially infinite, it will be necessary to discard the concern of tightly controlled quality and bestow the task of providing icons to the users in order to minimize the delay that you mentioned, maybe by allowing the user to optionally provide an image for a new item or an existing item that has no image.

Tags are good, but complementary images are better. Perhaps when there is (inevitably initially) no image, a random color placeholder would be the most suitable choice in the meantime since it is distinguishable (from other icons and placeholders of other colors) and cannot be confused for something that it is not (like a question mark or an asterisk or something).

In short, any icons at all are probably better than no icons.

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