We're looking to get an icon that will convey the meanings of both 'requested' and 'allocated' for our website.

The system is an e-learning service, and the icon is intended to be part of a series of icons that go from greyscale to colour once the user has performed the action. The first in the series is for the user to request that the course be allocated to them (at which point this icon will appear in colour), and then once it's been allocated they can launch the course (at which point this and the next icon in the series will appear in colour). Can anyone think of iconography which would somehow represent both 'you have requested that this course be allocated', and 'this course has been allocated'? We'd rather keep the icon the same in both cases than change it.

Update: I came up with this in Inkscape:

enter image description here

It looks fine at this large size but scaling it down to the size I need, 50x50 (or even smaller), makes it look pretty bad in Inkscape. Is there any way I can scale this down while still maintaining a half-decent look?

  • Scaling it down in inkscape: - Either export to a .png (Select area and Ctrl+E) at the size you need, or if that doesn't get it quite right, take a screenshot at higher resolution and then trim and scale in another application like Paint.net and see if that improves the detail. You may need to enlarge the word course and the coloured tabs and reduce the number of rings. If you're including the circle, that's wasting valuable space at that size of icon. – Roger Attrill Jul 21 '11 at 15:12
  • @Roger You mean the circle is wasting space? – Jez Jul 21 '11 at 16:00
  • Yes - it's adding about 30% to the width/height of the icon, so without the circle, you could make the rest of the content that much bigger for the same size of icon – Roger Attrill Jul 21 '11 at 16:08

So you need an association of an object (the course - a document) with a person (the user) and a state (allocation)? We have no idea of size of icon you need so I'm going to make it nice and big!

enter image description here

enter image description here

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    That's quite nice and along the right lines, but I don't know about the green arrow - I think we'll be using that in another icon to indicate 'course completed'. – Jez Jul 20 '11 at 16:50
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    I've added another sample with the allocation state shown with an arrow, but hopefully this gives you some ideas to get going. – Roger Attrill Jul 20 '11 at 17:04
  • Please see my update to the main question. – Jez Jul 21 '11 at 14:15

Icons, that are not popular are rubbish. Use text with color instead. Only big companies, such as Google and Microsoft have rights to create new icons.

enter image description here

If you want to show more details, so show tooltips with explanation on hover.

  • We want to use icons here as part of a chain of icons to indicate progress. Text is not a good replacement and would take up a lot more space. – Jez Jul 20 '11 at 18:23
  • @Dmitry, you should consider removing all of the icons. I am not saying they are bad, but often when they are foreign to the users they are ineffective, unless they are VERY clever and intuitive. – Matt Rockwell Jul 21 '11 at 11:06
  • @Matt, I don't quite understand what you mean... And the purpose of your message... ;) I'm not telling that you can't use icons at all, just use those, that are familiar to user. uxmyths.com/post/715009009/myth-icons-enhance-usability – Dmitry Semenov Jul 21 '11 at 11:58
  • @Dmitry - Sorry i meant to say to Jez before. I agree 100% with the link u posted here. – Matt Rockwell Jul 21 '11 at 14:49

How about a 50% full yellow progress bar for requested requested

and a green 100% full progress bar for allocated? allocated

Obviously you'd want them to be icon sized, but I think it would still make sense at 32px x 32px

  • Well, that's just not my remit. My remit is to do something like what eBay does in having greyed out icons from left to right until the person does that thing. – Jez Jul 22 '11 at 8:40

Why not have a series of text boxes that then get a check mark next to each?

Yes, it takes up more space. If you have so many steps that you need to worry about that (on a computer screen, not a phone, I'm assuming), then you need to chunk the task anyway--break up the first 4-5 subtasks, then when the user's done with that part, mark the whole CHUNK as "done".

A cryptic set of icons will waste your time developing them, and confuse and distract users. Or users will not bother looking at them at all. You might as well have had a series of checkboxes with no differentiation (perhaps a tooltip on each), or an overall progress bar (like SurveyMonkey).

  • Well, that's just not my remit. My remit is to do something like what eBay does in having greyed out icons from left to right until the person does that thing. – Jez Jul 22 '11 at 8:40

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