Here’s another little usability rant —
The image here shows the file operations buttons from Zend Studio — a PHP IDE. The button on the left is a folder with a green plus sign, then a folder with an arrow up, and then a folder with an arrow down. These three buttons are for New, Open, and Save, respectively.
First of all, why did they feel the need to define the icons that represent those actions? In about every app on the planet, New is a blank piece of paper, Open is an open folder, and Save is a floppy disk.
This is the first application I’ve seen that has decided that those icons don’t fit anymore (yes, I know floppies are obsolete — it’s doesn’t matter; that icon is ingrained into people’s minds). I had to hunt around for the Save icon. I didn’t see it, so I spent a minute looking through the View menu thinking that I had somehow shut off the standard toolbar. When I didn’t find a missing toolbar, I had to hover my mouse over the buttons to figure out what they did.
Second, why is “Save” a folder with a down arrow? What part of the action “Save” maps to the mental model of bringing something down to the editor? Shouldn’t it be an arrow up — since saving something implies the act of sending the current data out of the editor to somewhere else? I have hit the “Open” button a dozen times now thinking I was saving the file, only to have to close the “Open File…” dialog that pops up.
But fixing that second point is just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Repeat after me, the correct icons are blank sheet of paper, open folder, and floppy disk. Call me unoriginal, but I see no need to deviate from those.