Birth, Death, and Application Icons

For the last month I have been bouncing mockups for the application icon back and forth with the graphics guy via email.

We started with a list of ideas that included an arrow, a baby, a clock, footprints, a gravestone, an hourglass,a shooting star, a sundial, a tree and a wheel. All useful ideas, but too many to fit into the one icon. I suggested we could try to create a  shark fin leaving footprints up a tree in a line coming out of a clock, but somewhere the message was lost.

Instead we opted for the iconic shark-fin sundial, as it suggests history as well as time, would be less easily confused with existing icons (calendars, clocks, which tend to be used for, well… calendars and timers), does not clash with competitor’s icons, and is still recognisable in the shrunken form in the dock.

After several iterations working on the basic structure of the icon, we had the idea of replacing the hour numerals on the sundial with several of the motifs suggested in our original list. This gave the icon a clear direction, and a more direct representation of the application’s purpose: it isn’t simply about keeping time, but plotting the major events of life through time.

We wanted to cover the main stages of life, so along with the three constants, birth, death, and taxes, we added marriage and ill health, and so we ended with symbols to represent, in order:
1. Birth & Childhood
2. Employment & Labour
3. Marriage
4. Health and Illness (*).
5. Death

As a final flourish, we changed the point of the style into an arrowhead.

The current icon is displayed below:

Application icon displayed at 128x128 resolution.

Application icon displayed at 128x128 resolution.

There will be a few more changes made to the icon between now and the first official release of Aeon Timeline.

As a non-graphics person and someone who hasn’t had to think about things like this before, the entire process was new to me. Hopefully we struck on the right level of symbolism and clarity, and created an icon that will sit well in the dock.

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