Why isn't there a very common icon for messages which activates notifications window? I mean wouldn't it be better to place a bell icon as it better associated with notifications?

For example, everyone uses a magnifying glass for search and it has become a synonym for search. So why shouldn't the notification icon be somehow standardized? When I opened Foursquare app at first I was confused.

Foursquare screenshot

2 Answers 2


It depends on the type of application and obviously the developer's choice. If there is no chat functionality in the application, they can use the same icon for notifications. The reason for this can possibly be the fact that it attracts user psychologically that someone is trying to convey their message to them and user immediately clicks it.

  • That psychological pull is definitely real... when I see the red number box on my iPhone app icons (as noted below around Facebook), I am almost physically pulled to click on that thing and see what goodies lie within!
    – Mattynabib
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:47
  • Why the developer's choice? In my experience, developers shouldn't be given the task of choosing icons. Aug 10, 2016 at 14:25

Yes, there should be a standard way to indicate notifications... and to a certain extent, there is: the red circle/box with a number inside, as popularized by Facebook, but now used in many, many other contexts.

enter image description here

It is a noticeable, concise, information-dense, and now fairly internationally recognizable way to say "Hey! You have X number of things that need your attention!"

This does not specify anything about the base icon itself, but that indicator make it very clear that there is something you need to interact with.

  • So the red circle/box for the very first time was used by Facebook?
    – Peter
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:02
  • I can't say for sure... but it definitely gained serious popularity through Facebook.
    – Mattynabib
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.