We're trying to fit a nice notifications tab icon for our app. However, we couldn't find a global icon to define notifications. Facebook uses a globe (we can't use that, as we use globe to "discover/explore" tab in our app). Instagram uses a heart inside a chat bubble, but I don't think it represents "notifications" globally, it's more of a "like notifications". Twitter uses a bell, which, we think, is very ugly and doesn't fit the look and feel of our app. We've also seen exclamation marks inside triangles, but they represent more of a warning/error instead of notifications. We're looking for a good candidate for notifications icon. Is there a good one that everyone uses, or does it have the same fate with "share" icon in UX community?

closed as off-topic by Matt Obee, Charles Wesley, dnbrv, Graham Herrli, JohnGB Mar 9 '15 at 20:58

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  • "Questions requesting Icon Suggestions are off topic. While the subject of icons is on topic, there's very little value in soliciting suggestions for a specific icon in a specific context. See this meta post for more information about this topic." – Matt Obee, Charles Wesley, dnbrv, Graham Herrli, JohnGB
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Stack exchange uses an "inbox" that changes to a # when you have notices. G+ uses a circle w/ a bell, which changes to a circle w/ a #. Another possibility would be a mail icon (or mailbox). Personally I kind of like the idea of a circle with a 0 in it, or whatever # of notices they have.

  • thanks, we'll be experimenting with a few of them and pick the best, then. – Can Poyrazoğlu Mar 9 '15 at 16:37
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    In an answer to a question specifically about compact, readily recognizable icons/images, is it wise to use a pound sign as shorthand for "number"? The first time I read your answer I thought -- "I don't remember seeing a '#' on my SE inbox, what are they talking about?" – Dylan Cristy Mar 9 '15 at 19:33

In my opinion it depends on what these notifications are.

If it's about a social network, an inbox (envelope) or chat bubble icon makes sense, as most of the notifications will be about other users messaging them.

On the other hand, if it's a service provider where most notifications will be automated processes telling you that an update finished or your server burnt down and your data is lost, it may be better to use a "I" (information) icon, or a warning triangle.

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    I want a server that can inform me when it has burnt down. ERROR 511: Server on Fire! – aslum Mar 9 '15 at 17:38
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    @aslum wouldn't the error code for that be 911? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 9 '15 at 17:41
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    Nah, That's be if the server broke into your house... or maybe the other way around. I'm not really familiar w/ any Server Error codes higher than the 500s. d: – aslum Mar 9 '15 at 17:44
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    @aslum back in the days, there actually was a similar message about printers. – user42730 Mar 9 '15 at 17:58
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    @CanPoyrazoğlu chat bubble may be better. Envelopes are more for conventional e-mail like Gmail or webmail clients. – user42730 Mar 9 '15 at 23:20

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