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  #1  
Old 14 Jan 2015, 13:32
Panjo Panjo is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
FEEDBACK REQUESTED: do you want a 'forum' social media icon?

At the ForumCon conference a few months ago, there was a discussion about the lack of a social media icon for forums. We volunteered our very talented designer, Gary Shikhelman, to approach the project. The goal is to provide the forum community with an icon that means "forum" for use in digital and print in the same way that you might use the familiar Facebook or Twitter social media icons to imply that clicking on those icons will take a site visitor to your presence on those outlets.

Here is the first round of designs, referred to as #1 (top row), #2, and #3 (bottom row). To state the obvious, this first draft of designs is presented in various sizes to show you how the different iconography will scale.



Questions:
a) do you share a need for an icon that is highly recognizable as a 'forum' icon?
b) what do you think of designs #1, #2, and #3?
c) if we agree on an icon, will you use it? implement it?

For context, here are a variety of existing social media designs, non of which mean 'forum.'



image (1) copy.png
flaticons-socialmediaicons.jpg
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  #2  
Old 14 Jan 2015, 20:38
CharlieDelta CharlieDelta is offline
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
I certainly can see the need and think it would be useful and could at some point make use of it.
I like the designs and this would be my order of choice;
#1
#3
#2

I would have chosen #2 ahead of #3 but when you get down to the smallest size it looks like a bird/s.
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  #3  
Old 15 Jan 2015, 01:35
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HM666 HM666 is offline
 
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Real name: Len Kaiser
I like the first one but probably would have changed it to instead of a circle have the circle be a talk bubble. Just my two cents
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  #4  
Old 15 Jan 2015, 07:25
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Digital Jedi Digital Jedi is offline
 
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Real name: Mark Daniel Martinez
I like #1, as I think it more readily represents a text based forum. I don't know if it's immediately identifiable as such. Then again, the RSS icon probably wasn't readily familiar to your average user when it first came into usage. I don't think #2 is immediately recognizable as text balloons, and that's exacerbated as it decreases in size. The last one makes me think more of a quote button for a forum, but, ironically, not in a way that makes me think of a forum, but in a way that makes me think of the action. Meaning, I just might think the button is supposed to quote or reblog the source, like a forum. But not take me to one.

Doesn't the problem here stem from the fact that forums, while similar to social media, have always relied on their own unique branding for iconification? (It's a word.) Much like Social Media has it's own unique brand icons, rather than generic, catch-all icons representing all social media. Perhaps it would make more sense to approach the idea of the icon as an application/service, like the aforementioned RSS Feed. Icons like the Embed Code symbol or the generic MP3 player and telephone symbols. That's why I like the first one the best, because it better symbolizes the general service, as opposed to the others which have more of the stylized look of a logo.
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  #5  
Old 15 Jan 2015, 10:35
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BirdOPrey5 BirdOPrey5 is offline
 
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Real name: Joe D.
I like #1 the best but really have no use for it.
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  #6  
Old 15 Jan 2015, 13:01
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cellarius cellarius is offline
 
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Real name: Sven
I see the need, and would support the idea.

Actually, I like #1 least. I find it to be somewhat meaningless. It looks like any text anywhere whit an image in it. There's no representation of forum discussons in it, somthing #2 and #3 capture better in my opinion.

I would prefer #2. I see the scalability issue with the smallest size, though. But if you look at other social icons and how they scale to that minimum size, it really is not that bad.
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  #7  
Old 15 Jan 2015, 13:08
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Replicant Replicant is offline
 
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I like #2 if I had a use for it. It most represents a conversation. I had to laugh as I have no idea what most of those social media icons are for.
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  #8  
Old 16 Jan 2015, 01:45
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Digital Jedi Digital Jedi is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Replicant View Post
I like #2 if I had a use for it. It most represents a conversation. I had to laugh as I have no idea what most of those social media icons are for.
A good number of those aren't even really social media sites. But I guess we tend to swoop them all together.
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  #9  
Old 16 Jan 2015, 04:34
Panjo Panjo is offline
 
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This is great feedback! Thank you.

To answer a question that arose in another forum for admins, take a look at the footer of the vBulletin.com page:



It seems appropriate that amid the Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube icons that there be an icon that provides a visual clue and a clickable shortcut to a forum associated with the brand.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 9.17.08 PM.jpg
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  #10  
Old 16 Jan 2015, 06:45
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Digital Jedi Digital Jedi is offline
 
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HM666 recommended a text bubble for the first one. But I was thinking the circle works well, if it went a step further and was part of a basic person icon. Since the euphemism we use for forums is "community", then a group of people better represents that. I know, you run into the issue of scalability and it looking too much like a messenger icon.

Then again, vBulletin has typically chosen that type of icon to symbolize an active community.

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  #11  
Old 18 Jan 2015, 10:24
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BirdOPrey5 BirdOPrey5 is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Panjo View Post
This is great feedback! Thank you.

To answer a question that arose in another forum for admins, take a look at the footer of the vBulletin.com page:



It seems appropriate that amid the Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube icons that there be an icon that provides a visual clue and a clickable shortcut to a forum associated with the brand.

Attachment 151653
But those icons tell you where you are going- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc... they are all external sites.

A generic forum icon- I don't know where that is taking me? Is it to an off-site forum? A forum on the site I'm currently browsing? Any forum of decent size probably has its own logo that they'd use for a custom icon already- between favicon and apple touch images they probably have something they could adopt.

So this isn't really for external links, the only similar icon out there really is the RSS icon, possibly a generic blog icon- you want a generic forum icon. This isn't going to compete with Google and Twitter, only RSS and Blogs.
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  #12  
Old 18 Jan 2015, 11:03
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cellarius cellarius is offline
 
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It takes you to a social sharing/discussion platform. Normally as you say it would be external. But many sites offer their own discussion platforms, normally forums. It would greatly benefit those sites if next to the well known external providers there would be a universally known icon for discussion forums that could be put next to those sharing icons. Insofar it does indeed compete with FB, Twitter and the like, as it makes your forum more visible at the place people who like to comment on something tend to look.
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  #13  
Old 18 Jan 2015, 15:34
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Brandon Sheley Brandon Sheley is offline
 
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I'd say a forum icon would be similar the favicon of the forum itself, and tailored to the companies brand..
I don't see one icon being used across the web for every type of forum.
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  #14  
Old 18 Jan 2015, 18:17
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cellarius cellarius is offline
 
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Hm - but would I not use my sites branding all over the place - not only for the forum part? And would it not be good to have people instantly realize that this link will lead them to a discussion forum?
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  #15  
Old 18 Jan 2015, 20:30
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Digital Jedi Digital Jedi is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Brandon Sheley View Post
I'd say a forum icon would be similar the favicon of the forum itself, and tailored to the companies brand..
I don't see one icon being used across the web for every type of forum.
There's some exceptions to that. For instance, you might already be reading an article or a blog post on the authors website. So along with your social media icons linking users to your profiles there, you also have a link to your forum profile/recent threads/etc. on that same domain. Using the icon of a site you're already on might seem redundant or unclear. Again, the RSS icon serves a similar function.
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