Why the Floppy Disk Should Remain the Icon for Save

From a user interface point of view:

“Not just fascinating–it’s also done something that is all too rare: it has formed a uniform standard. Almost every program has a floppy drive disk icon for saving (although fewer now that the technology is obsolete). When the industry and market collectively decide on a uniform standard you don’t fucking change it.

In fact, the floppy drive being obsolete makes the symbol all the better.¬† Someone who doesn’t even know what the symbol is won’t be getting wrong ideas about what it does (until the first time they see it associated with “save,” which, I remind, only has to be done once before it’s a “save button” and not a “floppy disk button”)–they won’t think that it’s going to eject a disk, navigate a file browser to removable media, or do anything else crazy with a piece of removable media if they don’t even know that’s what a floppy disk is. It’s just a mystery button until 30 minutes into using a computer for the first time in their life when they learn that it is the “save” button.

We have plenty of symbols that are pretty much universally recognized despite not having a solid pictoral representation–why are two rectangles “pause” and a square “stop”? These symbols make no sense but they work perfectly because everyone uses the same ones. The save button is in the same boat, and that’s the best position for it to be in. ”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1uxaeq/what_should_replace_the_floppy_disk_as_the/cemr4ym?context=1

Image from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Floppy_disk_2009_G1.jpg

One thought on “Why the Floppy Disk Should Remain the Icon for Save

  1. Mike Swingler

    A couple of issues here:
    1. No app should require an explicit save, except to “place” the document somewhere (see every app on iOS which opaques this completely from the user)
    2. Using obsolete iconography for a function is not justifiable because “users will only have to learn it once”. Good iconography uses context, cultural cues, and most importantly RECOGNITION to express the concept. You shouldn’t have to learn it, you should already know it.
    3. The world doesn’t need another “pause” and “stop”.

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