Some concepts just don’t die. For some reason or another, they’ve hung around haunting us. Take for example, the floppy disk. The physical device is long extinct but the image of it continues to be used extensively every day by millions, perhaps even billions of people. Anyone who uses Office (or any number of other software products) sees this icon every time they want to save a document. I wonder how many millennials even know what this image actually represents?
Or what about an even more pervasive one – the little green button on your cell phone for making a call? How many people using cell phones have even used one of these analogue neck-cradling phones?
What’s interesting for me is that even though a lot of people have never used these physical devices, they completely understand what these icons mean. The icons have taken on a life of their own beyond the physical device they represent. We could argue that we should update the icons to rather represent something more relevant to modern times, but what would that be? If we did that, how long would we have that new representation before that too would become extinct and we’d have to change the representation yet again?
If everyone understands what the representations mean or can very quickly grasp the meaning then perhaps it’s better to simply continue using it? The whole point of icons is to try represent a concept that as many people as possible understand, isn’t it?