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by Tim Van Damme

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About an icon

Re: This beautiful replacement icon for Tweetie 3/Twitter for iPhone.

We designers like to think we know best. We can spot a bad design from a mile away, and aren’t shy of pointing it out. That’s great, it means we’re all passionate about what we do.

But sometimes, we just need to sit back and suck it.

Twitter for iPhone

This morning, Tweetie 3 (now known as “Twitter for iPhone”) was released in the iTunes App Store. It featured some improvements, some changes – oh, and also a new icon.

My initial reaction to the icon was neither positive nor negative. I would have loved it if they kept it in the same style as the original Tweetie icon, but didn’t mind what the wonderful designers at Twitter came up with. It’s blue, and I knew the team wouldn’t allow it to be blue unless they had a good reason for it (they’re well aware that most of the iPhone icons are blue).

On Dribbble, Doug Bowman stepped in and elaborated on the decisions that went into the new icon, and it basically comes down to this (these are my interpretations in my words, not his):

  • Tweetie for iPhone is gone, get over it. The icon is the only bit of branding they added to the app.
  • If they had to choose from a design point of view, it would have looked a lot like this.
  • Why blue? Because the entire branding of Twitter is blue, and for users it’s much easier to recognize it like this.
  • They decided on the icon with their users in mind. Their goal was to take away frustration for their users, giving them a smoother path to signing up for, and using, Twitter.

A grey gradient icon with the cutout of a bird would, for us designers, have been the logical thing to do, but it isn’t the best. Sometimes, a designer needs to take a step back and accept that the most convenient solution isn’t always the right one, and that there are other factors you need to keep in mind. If you can’t do that, you’re not a good designer. Design isn’t about making things look pretty, it’s about making things functional in an aesthetic way.

Does this mean the new blue icon is ugly? Not at all; the tappability is strong with this one.