General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

When will the 3.5" floppy stop being used as an icon for saved data?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12014points) May 15th, 2013

I think its cool, but…Do kids even know what these things are???

It’s pretty outmoded at this point. Why not a usb stick… Or…a CD…. Or….a memory stick?

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17 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Ltryptophan you missed the obvious a “puffy cloud”.

RandomGirl's avatar

I think we should start using a cloud symbol. It’d be more realistic and the next generation (which includes teenagers now, really) would understand. I also really think the floppy disk symbol isn’t very streamlined or “pretty”.

gorillapaws's avatar

I disagree with the cloud. That indicates your data is being stored remotely. For data security reasons, some people want certain data to only be kept on physical storage they own. I would be freaked out saving financial records for example by clicking a cloud icon.

In the future, most data will be stored on solid state drives. They look like the one on the right. It’s kind of hard to make an icon of that.

Seiryuu's avatar

I feel like it’s there as an endearment to the older users, back when floppy disks were common that it’s become an automatic association to saving. USB icons may be a little trickier as it may seem like there are other functions that we’d choose from with respect to our USBs, if any.

fundevogel's avatar

Don’t forget the old cradle/receiver telephone icon. I think part of the reason these old symbols persist is that they’re more visually distinctive than their modern counter parts.

ragingloli's avatar

And what about the icon for directories? There are no actual folders on a computer.
Or the envelope icon for email? You do not use envelopes for email.

Ltryptophan's avatar

But….the 3.5” floppy isn’t the svelte symbol that the cradle/receiver phone is…or the simple beauty of the envelope. It’s shabby. Lose it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I can’t see it lasting that much longer to be honest. The general consensus is that skeuomorphism is old hat now and I wouldn’t be surprised if you see much less of it the next version iOS for example.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Some applications use a picture of a hard disk with an arrow pointing to it, which I think is even dumber than the floppy-disk icon.

More appropriate would be an icon that actually denotes the notion of “saving” something (like a piggy-bank, maybe- or perhaps a helicopter with a ladder dangling from it?) rather than one that denotes “use the device that saves”- especially now that any given computer has several different mechanism for saving or syncing files. These differences should be transparent to the user, but not invisible.

While I’m pointing that out, I’d like to remind anyone who is likely to do any interface design to not hide things from the user. Don’t assume that the user is stupid, don’t assume we have no idea about how a computer works. For example, some Android users might be confused if they had to navigate the filesystem to find things- so it’s a good idea to abstract the filesystem the way Android does. But hiding the filesystem the way Android does (requiring the user to install a third-party app in order to manipulate arbitrary files) is a Bad Thing. I know how filesystems work, and I want to use that knowledge, and hiding the information is bad for me and for users like me.

TL;DR UI design is a neglected science, and designers should be required at minimum to read Raskins The Humane Interface before proceeding.

jerv's avatar

If iOS and Metro are any clue, files and file management as we know it is passé. Hell, Apple considers it confusing enough that they don’t even allow file management beyond what iTunes has.

@rexacoracofalipitorius You have that slightly backwards. Android doesn’t hide the file system; they just don’t include a file manager by default. Plug an Android device into a computer and it shows up like a USB drive. Apple doesn’t do that, nor do they have third-party file managers.

poisonedantidote's avatar

The 3.5 floppy was outdated even back in its peek use. Even when we had 100Mb zip drives and jazz drives and what not, the floppy was still vital, you could not even format your computer without it, for the boot disk.

The floppy has a way of clinging on. I still have about 1000 of them right here, you never know, I could need my 11 MS-Dos disks for something.

ragingloli's avatar

I recently used a USB drive as a boot disk. After it survived a round in the washing machine.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Many photo viewers still use film strip or magnifying loupe icons.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Lightlyseared “The general consensus is that skeuomorphism is old hat now”

Icons aren’t really skeumorphism. They are like pictograms that convey meaning through analogy and metaphor. Icon design is an art form unto itself. The idea is to make the thing recognizable enough so people immediately know what it’s representing without having so much detail that the image looks like one particular example of that thing. In other words you want the floppy disk to look like it represents disks and isn’t a specific disk in particular.

Conversely, skeumorphism is about replicating physical experiences on digital media, and it’s not completely “old hat.” While it can and has been taken way too far at times, it also is an inviting experience, conveys instant recognizability on the part of the user (if they’re familiar with the physical object) and gives each UI a unique experience that sets it apart from others. For example, when I hit the expose button on my mac, despite some of the gratuitously skeumorphic apps like the notepad are instantly identifiable when shrunk down and next to all of the dozen or so other apps and windows I’ve got open.

rojo's avatar


What about a Jesus Icon?

4:21 pm CST Lets see how long this lasts

RandomGirl's avatar

@rojo: Clever play on words. I bet some people have come up with a way to change the icon.

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