The importance of labels (on icons)

While looking at the User Interface guidelines from various well-known companies, I found this text stating The Importance Of Labels. In his blog, Jensen Harris (apparently working on Outlook at Microsoft) write about his experience with icons: icons only are not used by non-expert people although icons with label are extensively used. When reading the comments at the end, I saw an interesting thread … If we accept that people will preferably use labelled icons, why not try text-only buttons (instead of icons)? I probably won’t work since, when using the two (icon + label), you are simply making an association between the meaning that you can read in text and the symbol. Later on, you’ll simply look for the symbol, knowing that it has a certain meaning in a certain situation.

This text was linked from GUUUI, the interaction designer’s coffee break.

Now, some grumpy people will tell me they only use text-based applications 😉