Ok, in Web2.0, i saw many sites using action icon instead of text menu. Ex:

This is the menu bar using text menu
[Product] [Search Article] [Place an Order] .....

This is the menu bar using icon
[icon1] [icon2] [icon3] .....

You see web2.0 is just like Desktop app. In Desktop app (like Excel), they use icons a lot in menu bar (Ex: a Door icon is stand for open) & they did a good job that it made a standard in Desktop app.

So how does user feel if they see lot of icon in Web2.0 app?

Do they feel better?

Note:A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to Web sites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content. (Wiki)

Web2.0 like Gmail or Facebook where people can interact with the web site just like they did in a desktop app like Gmail.

  • What do you mean by 'web 2.0'? That's not really a meaningful term these days, any more than calling something a Webkit app is. Tell us what the app is actually about, what it does and who uses it, that's more useful than just saying 'web 2.0'.
    – JonW
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:31
  • Web2.0 like Gmail or Facebook where people can interact with the web site just like they did in a desktop app like Gmail. This is a very good example of web2.0 smartclient.com/smartgwt/showcase/#tree_appearance_node_titles
    – Tam
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:42
  • I know what the term Web 2.0 means (or meant) but Facebook and GMail are two very different apps. Different uses, different audiences. We need to know about your use case so we can help target the answer to a more specific situation. Saying something is web 2.0 is like saying it's a brochureware site. Well, that could mean many different things; what matters is what the app is actually for.
    – JonW
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:44
  • I think it depends on the clarity of the icons. If you don't have the word search, but you have a magnifying glass icon, it's usually pretty clear because that's an established pattern. Is that what you're asking?
    – SwankyLegg
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:54
  • @JonW: just view Web2.0 is like a web page that work like a Desktop application (like Excel), not just a webpage that view content (just like yahoo news or any newpaper page). Ex: can you sort row in yahoo news?
    – Tam
    Mar 16, 2014 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


If you're introducing unfamiliar actions, users get particularly annoyed when designers implement nondescript icons or icons that force them to learn.

Photoshop gets away with it because they provide tooltips.

Photoshop menu Photoshop menu tooltip

Gmail similarly provides tooltips on hover, but people were still annoyed at the switch. If you're concerned, provide both and allow your users to choose which they would like (or both), and then test. Randomly serve users one of the versions, then check the time it takes for them to perform the desired action (or reach your outcome if it's commerce-related).

  • so people do upset if they don't understand the icon don't they? I use computer for 20 years but sometimes still upset at gmail, so i think using icon at the right place & right time should work, not too many icons
    – Tam
    Mar 16, 2014 at 2:47
  • Absolutely. This question has a much better description of when and why to use different representations of actions: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1795/…
    – SwankyLegg
    Mar 16, 2014 at 2:49

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