Department of Industrial Design
Mingchi Institute of Technology, Taipei, Taiwan
Along with the increasing availability of high quality graphic displays, the use of iconic interfaces in computer system is becoming common and accessible to users. Many users have come to view an iconic interface as a requirement for their systems and software. While icons are playing an increasingly important role in iconic interface, many cognitive human factors of icon design are not well understood ( Gittins 1986, Lodding 1982). There are no specific set of rules or criteria that can be followed by the designers during the design stage. Although the International Organization for Standardization ( Easterby and Zwaga 1976) provides the selection criteria and original reference principles, whether an icon has met the criteria can be known only after the test is completed. For icons are effective in an iconic interface, they need to be properly designed to be meaningful, associated, learnable, memorable and consistent. Collins ( 1982) listed six questions to evaluate an icon, including 1)Can the symbol be detected? 2) Can it be discriminated from all others? 3) Can it be recognized when seen in a different context? 4) Does it communicate the intended meaning? 5) Does it gain attention? 6) Does it alter behavior appropriately? This six questions can be grouped into the four categories of human factors which are physical, cognitive, social, and cultural. Cultural factors are the vaguest and the most unspecific, the least known, the most difficult to codify, but perhaps, precisely because of these reasons are the most important. Recently, the research in this field has been focusing on "cultural differences in the user perception" ( Resnick et al. 1997) with an attempt to study the influence of culture in icon recognition. Therefore, the purpose of this paper intended to study the cultural factors in the preferences of pictorial symbols.