So much controversy over such a little icon

The icon for the newly named Twitter for iPhone app has been generating a lot of strong feelings, it seems. Alternative mock ups have popped up by Gerardo Diaz and Josh Helmsley, with many comments from other users chiming in. Some of these comments express a distaste that rises to a level I would not have expected, saying they went back to Tweetie, are looking for a new Twitter client, or won’t display the icon on their first app screen anymore. I appreciate a good iPhone app icon as much as the next one and have been known to pass up some software due to an atrocious icon. But I just can’t see what’s so horrible about this icon. For that matter, I liked the original Tweetie icon over the silver Tweetie 2 icon.

Some Twitter reps have commented on the above mock ups. It’s nice to see a reasonable discourse about it, and I’m glad they are responding to their user base. There’s some back and forth on Josh Helmsley’s post between Mark Otto (a Twitter UI designer) and Matt Gist (a designer, but not for Twitter) about how the new icon was meant to fit in with the basic iPhone apps, with the white icon on a brightly colored background. Matt says, essentially, “it is not the concept that is at fault, it is the execution.” I’m no designer, but I agree. The idea of the icon is fine, but there is something off putting about the gradients and shading, which I could never have described. As Matt puts it, “the execution is down-right terrible when it comes to lighting, the heavy upper glare and the bland shadow emanating from the bird have no place in the crisp, candied example given by the iPod, MMS and phone utilities.” Mark said they will try to improve the icon, so hopefully it will turn into a better version of itself along the way.

Several people, including John Gruber, have said that it reminds them of uninformed or spam Twitter users, since it is similar to the icon Twitter now displays for users who haven’t set their own. I can see the logic there, but I guess I don’t see as many of those accounts, because it doesn’t provoke such a negative reaction to me.

I liked what Tim Van Damme had to say, which also aligns with my thoughts. Basically, yeah, the icon’s kind of off, but it’s not that bad, people!