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Accessibility and Usability Forum

Usability - Icon vs Text Link

10+ Year Member

Msg#: 13 posted 12:42 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

For providing an email link (for user profiles), should I use a text link that says "email" or an icon?

I've been using a very small letter icon - which appears to be the most popular icon, but I'm wondering if text would be much more obvious. Especially since "email" is such a short word (when i display a list of users in a table - space is at a premium, my icon is around 12x12).

By contrast, for "Delete", I'm pretty happy with a red X icon which I think it more popular and thus easier to understand than the email-letter icon.

I spent a little time using Google Images search on small images to test image popularity (keywords: "delete" and "email").



WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 13 posted 12:57 am on Feb 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Icon: Might be better at overcoming language obstacles, however requires user to recognize its intent.

Text: Might not be as good for all visitors due to language confusion, however there is little question about what the word means (for those who understand the word) and search engines and less-able visitors (like blind visitors or those restricted to text-only browsers) will appreciate it more than an icon. As a last "pro", many non-English-speaking visitors would be able to use various software to translate the text on the page ... but not the images.


5+ Year Member

Msg#: 13 posted 12:59 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

It also depends whether you need the delete icon and email icon in the same table. If they are in the same table, then I'd stick with using icons for both, as it just looks neater.

I think most users would know that a little envelope means email, especially if you add an 'alt' tag saying something to that effect.

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