Usability: When icons fail

A common design pattern that is being used extensively on mobile apps has been the use of icons to illustrate specific functions. By now, there are specific icons that almost everyone is familiar with. An icon of a trash can represents deleting something or a printer represents the print function. But what happens when icons are used that users are unfamiliar with? I’ve been using the Gmail app on my iPad and it helps illustrate a great example. There were quite a few icons that I was completely unfamiliar with, and as a result, I had never used them.

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