Imperial War Museum Image of Social Interpretation Blog title

Which phone stays? YOU DECIDE!

We’re starting to really get into the design of phase-1 of Social Interpretation, and this will the first of a few updates on various aspects of design for the in-gallery technology and signage.

As you may have seen (here, here, here, here and, um,  here) we’re in the middle of wresting with how (or if) to best use QR Codes to facilitate physical/digital interaction. We already know from our research that part of this is to really make clear, in a small space, what the code is and how to use it. Part of that is placement, part is effective written prompt – being looked at by Claire Ross, and part is visual prompting. We’re finding out that visitors are likely to respond well to a clear phone graphic, to indicate what to use the code with. But what phone?

Which do you think it most recognisable as a smartphone?

You see, I have an aversion to using the iPhone as an icon. It’s recognisable, and definitely has a cultural recognition this definitely helps as far as being an icon is concerned.

But, I worry that it does three things:

  • Alienate non iPhone users and imply that it’s an iPhone-only function
  • Contribute to the public perception that Smartphone = iPhone. It doesn’t (it’s denying the antecedent)
  • Contribute to the public perception that you need an Apple device to take advantage of basic smartphone functions

It’s possible that none of these matter – or that I’m just worrying about nothing. And we’ll be evaluating our choice anyway to see how people react.

But what do you think?

From left to right, which phone icon do you prefer?

  • Generic, 3D (not shown) (28%, 11 Votes)
  • iPhone, straight (25%, 10 Votes)
  • iPhone, angled (18%, 7 Votes)
  • iPhone, 3D (15%, 6 Votes)
  • Generic, angled (13%, 5 Votes)
  • Generic, straight (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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  1. Liam Hawks says: January 18, 20122:11 pm

    Perhaps no button at all. Retain the dimensions of your typical smartphone but have a generic screen of typical smartphone application icons or a generic internet page. I think perhaps the basic phone dimensions with a large screen combined with a stylised internet document would work well.

  2. C Statham says: January 18, 20122:44 pm

    Interesting topic this is.

    I think recognition comes from something being sensually pervasive. Take the common iconography of street signs for example. Only a small minority of folk ride a city bike, but you instantly recognise the road you’re on is meant for bicycles because the city bike style icon fits a ‘pervasive’ appearance. iPhones also happen to be a pervasive design in the public eye – whether you have one or not. Here’s another example of ageing iconography that’s still easily digested:
    Hilarious when you think about it.

    I feel that successful iconography relies on purpose and recognition. i.e what do you want people to do and will they recognise the prompt to do it. Perhaps a phone icon alone isn’t enough… Perhaps it needs to depict the action in some way… Smartphones can do a lot these days… So I’m told anyway… I only just discovered my calendar.

  3. Joe says: January 18, 20123:12 pm

    My feeling is that people either know what a QR code is or they don’t. If you know you don’t need a phone icon to tell. If you don’t then a icon isn’t going to tell you that you need to run the qr code app and scan the code. What I would want to know is what I’m going to get if I go to the trouble of getting out my phone and scanning the code. I’d also want to be sure that you have free wi-fi so its not going to cost me anything.

    • Jane says: January 18, 20129:07 pm

      Space is inevitably limited next to the QR code, on the graphic panel. And too long instructions are as bad as too little. What you are going to get by scanning and the fact of free wi-fi seem must have’s, don’t they? Claire Ross has come up with some text options, which hopefully we can post up here and let you all loose on..

  4. Ian Crawford says: January 19, 20127:02 am

    Generic 3D for me! Everyone knows the basic shape of a mobile device so don’t make it look like a known brand to keep things as simple as possible.

  5. Laura says: January 19, 20128:29 am

    I think I agree with Jo about people either know what a QR code is or they don’t but perhaps this is something that needs to be integrated into the intro panel (I’m sure you’re already thinking about this) rather than with every code throughout. Panel space is always limited and at the end of the day it should be about the content rather than the technology (technology to help feed/power content). Not sure that helps and I’m afraid I have to admit I haven’t read the rest of the blog so this is a reaction in isolation…

  6. […] after the vote earlier, and approval at the Project Team meeting, the image we’re going with on our QR prompts is a […]

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