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It's 2018 and Material Design still uses a floppy disk as a Save icon

over 1 year ago from , UX and stuff

See for yourself

So there's really no better analogy? Haven't we eliminated 'saving' altogether? 5 years have past since this came out, there's a whole generation that grew up with touchscreens.

Material Save Icon

87 comments

  • Account deleted over 1 year ago

    Why bother making everyone re-learn an icon when it doesn't matter at all?

    80 points
    • James LaneJames Lane, over 1 year ago

      THIS.

      Just google 'save icon' and see what comes up. From a usability point of view, it's useful if the user understands something straight away because they have seen it elsewhere.

      It's like saying why do people still use a camera icon when everyone uses their phones! What icon is used to represent 'camera' on iOS? I guess they could use the 'iPhone' icon, but then users might confuse that with phoning someone... Do you see the point I'm making?

      33 points
    • iterati design, over 1 year ago

      I think you're missing my point, which I've failed to articulate in the original post, but which is written below in comments.

      The whole notion of 'saving' is flawed and doesn't make sense anymore.

      0 points
      • Peter AntoniusPeter Antonius, over 1 year ago

        What have touch screens anything to do with "saving"?

        17 points
        • iterati design, over 1 year ago

          Mobile touchscreen interfaces are the latest widespread development in terms of UIs. VUIs and VR/AR are at an early stage, not counting them in.

          The concept of saving isn't included anywhere in mobile touchscreen UIs.

          So answering your question:

          What have touch screens anything to do with "saving"?

          They literary have nothing to do with saving.

          0 points
          • Account deleted over 1 year ago

            I saved an airline ticket on my phone yesterday.

            10 points
            • iterati design, over 1 year ago

              With a floppy disk icon, I bet.

              On a more serious note, I guess you've 'added it to your wallet'? Or downloaded the pdf?

              -1 points
              • Account deleted over 1 year ago

                No, I clicked a floppy disk icon from a website which saved the ticket to my phone. I knew to do it, because there was a floppy disk icon, which is the universal icon, for saving something, which people still do. How would you use version control or history to make this process better?

                11 points
                • iterati design, over 1 year ago

                  Look, you've downloaded a pdf via a website on a phone browser. How's that 'saving'?

                  1 point
                  • Ken Em, over 1 year ago

                    You are saving it to the device.

                    20 points
                  • Account deleted over 1 year ago

                    I'm done. You're pointlessly arguing semantics after being continually wrong. Have a good day :)

                    14 points
      • Stuart McCoyStuart McCoy, over 1 year ago

        Ummm, some of us still use desktop applications that require saving all the time. I get that you millennials love all your online apps but not everything can be done online. Or, more accurately, done well. Sure, we don't save to floppy disks but the concept of saving a file has not gone away, nor will it anytime soon.

        12 points
        • Kip HolcombKip Holcomb, over 1 year ago

          You realize millennials are up to 36 years old and grew up using floppy disks, right?

          I agree with your point, by the way. And saving can also be used instead of "uploading" like Google Docs does.

          6 points
        • Daniel MarquesDaniel Marques, over 1 year ago

          Even online there are apps that require you to save your progress… Saving still exists.

          1 point
      • Account deleted over 1 year ago

        Yes it does. I'm sorry but I don't understand the point you're trying to make.

        2 points
      • Ryan Hicks, over 1 year ago

        Na I think we all pretty clearly get what you mean. And we think you're wrong.

        18 points
        • iterati design, over 1 year ago

          Oh, so you're speaking for everyone now? I'll make a note so that I don't forget.

          0 points
          • Ryan Hicks, over 1 year ago

            ...written below in comments.

            Oh, so you're speaking for everyone now?

            I think you should heed your own advice which would reveal to you the credibility in my statement. I'm not speaking for everyone. They've already spoken; I'm just reiterating since you don't seem to be comprehending the comments and the upvotes accompanied with those comments.

            18 points
      • Brian A.Brian A., over 1 year ago

        I don't fully agree with this. You're taking a hardline stance that saving as a concept is irrelevant across the board, which seems to be based solely off your personal experience with touch screen experiences. I do agree that the concept of saving is irrelevant for certain applications, but there are so many other types of experiences where saving is not only expected behavior, but a requirement. The world of software is much bigger than touch screen applications, and I don't think it's fair to make a wholesale assumption like this.

        2 points
        • iterati design, over 1 year ago

          My point with touchscreens in general was to contrast it with floppies – they're generations apart. But more importantly to show how interfaces evolved from the times of floppies to now and how they mostly dropped saving as a concept. If you look at the trend over the years, hopefully, we won't be forced to hit ⌘S all the time.

          1 point
          • jeremy silverjeremy silver, over 1 year ago

            You keep repeating yourself. Can you actually list the application you're referencing when you say they've "dropped saving as a concept" so we know what you're talking about?

            1 point
      • James Young, over 1 year ago

        I'd bet that autosaving is still in a minority when it comes to keeping changes in a website (perhaps not so much in apps).

        1 point
      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, over 1 year ago

        I know what you are getting at.

        1. Apps should be saving in the background
        2. Undo should be there for the user

        For the example of material design, of course, they need it because they need to support all kinds of potential apps that will use their design framework.

        Another aspect to this is that there are still users who feel the need to save. They don't trust the UI. This can be remedied by notifying the user of the status (Think gmail, saved as draft)

        5 points
        • John PJohn P, over 1 year ago

          Apps should be saving in the background

          Yeah we tried that, it with OS X, it was AWFUL.

          1 point
      • Marc EdwardsMarc Edwards, over 1 year ago

        That’s simply not true. Removing the save action works for many apps and scenarios where it’s easy to autosave or constantly sync with a server, but there are many situations where save is needed — like when the save action is destructive, or when it means saving a huge amount of data and should happen when the customer decides to save (not automated on a schedule).

        There is a very good reason why pro apps like Logic and Photoshop sill have Save and Save As, rather than a timed autosave.

        4 points
      • Amanda Erickson, over 1 year ago

        The whole notion of 'saving' is flawed and doesn't make sense anymore.

        Would be interested to hear if you think this is a valid thought for an older audience, say 55+?

        You've articulated some kind of response in these comments, but you're only giving a very narrow-minded opinion, whereas UX requires actually looking at your audience and testing what works best for their experience.

        0 points
    • Steven CavinsSteven Cavins, over 1 year ago

      No one seems to complain about a cog for settings but I've never used an actual cog to do anything in my entire life that remotely resembles "changing my settings."

      32 points
  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 1 year ago

    it's 2018 and we're still tweeting with a quill pen.

    43 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 1 year ago

      Phone's don't have dail circles anymore.

      Film cameras don't have giant rolls of film on top anymore.

      Who the hell uses an hourglass?

      Who here has a microphone that looks like a pill on a stand?

      :)

      They're ICONS though. Meaning they're associated with certain things. Or represent certain actions.

      2 points
  • Aaron CalzadoAaron Calzado, over 1 year ago

    And emails are still associated with an envelope.

    27 points
  • Wouter RamakerWouter Ramaker, over 1 year ago

    This is true for a lot of icons though, I bet your mobile phone doesn't have a separate horn, but still uses that to indicate a call.

    15 points
  • Marcel M., over 1 year ago

    Errrr...backwards compatibility, anyone? 80% of the Material icons are obsolete for every day users...BUT...in case you need an icon for this rare functionality called "Save"

    ...here you go!

    fun fact: Right next to your oldschool floppy disc icon is another icon called save_alt :D

    10 points
  • stephen fstephen f, over 1 year ago

    I think the fact it's actually a floppy disc has become totally irrelevant, as in most young-ens just see a save icon... so now it's just a save icon

    10 points
  • Igor StumbergerIgor Stumberger, over 1 year ago

    I understand your take on this but what's with the negativity?

    What do you use in scenarios where you have to show that something can be saved? I mean, it's not like you've provided a better solution to or anything ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    7 points
    • iterati design, over 1 year ago

      Agreed, my tone was harsh and I was impulsive after seeing this.

      Saving makes no sense anymore, when was the last time anyone had to save anything on mobile (maybe a draft email, that is done via canceling/closing). Everything I design supports autosave and in my view that's the way forward

      The whole notion of saving is flawed. When you write something down IRL, it's already there, it's saved. When you make any changes to the real world they're instantly applied. Saving brings an additional level of abstraction and complexity, it should be omitted.

      I understand why it exists, not getting into it, but it's time to move on.

      1 point
      • James LaneJames Lane, over 1 year ago

        The user should have the option. If I'm coding something up, I don't want it autosaving because I have a script that reloads my local development site every time I save. If I haven't finished writing the code I'm working on and it autosaves, I'll just get a screen of errors.

        Gotta admit though, I'm going off topic. I see where you're coming from and it's opened up a bit of a discussion at work haha. My colleagues are now saying "Why stop there? Let's change the phone icon" and "save_alt looks more like a download button"

        8 points
        • iterati design, over 1 year ago

          So in this particular case you need a 'Reload' control instead of 'Save'?

          Obviously, I get your point. Yet most of desktop systems are built around an outdated concept and can't function otherwise. It's time to think beyond.

          0 points
          • James LaneJames Lane, over 1 year ago

            Ok, my colleagues are getting angry now haha.

            Side note: Couldn't use a 'reload' button. If I'm coding in Atom, I want to save the file to the codebase. I don't want Atom to reload, I want Chrome to reload.

            4 points
          • Account deleted over 1 year ago

            Me, and likely millions, if not billions of people still save documents, photos and other files. I'm still not sure what your point is?

            8 points
            • iterati design, over 1 year ago

              My point is that the conceptual model behind 'saving' is outdated and broken.

              The modern alternative is autosave, history and version control.

              0 points
              • Joshua TurnerJoshua Turner, over 1 year ago

                From a development perspective, autosave isn't always the best solution.

                Take any basic CRUD application. When you're updating a resource, you'd likely do it via a modal or a separate card screen on a native app. Without the 'Save' button to complete the interaction, the user would just close the modal/swipe back without feeling like anything has been applied.

                I definitely agree that sometimes saving isn't ideal, but you're applying narrow logic to a widespread topic without thinking about it from all angles.

                10 points
                • iterati design, over 1 year ago

                  I think we're conflating 'Save' and 'Submit' here, and there's clear distinction between the two.

                  0 points
                  • Joshua TurnerJoshua Turner, over 1 year ago

                    I don't think there is.

                    You're updating - saving changes - to an existing resource.

                    Submit would be more appropriate for creating a new resource.

                    6 points
              • Account deleted over 1 year ago

                It really isn't.

                3 points
                • iterati design, over 1 year ago

                  You're constantly contradicting any point I make. Could you go deeper into reasons to support your point?

                  0 points
                  • Account deleted over 1 year ago

                    I really don't need to go deeper into the point that people still need to save things. I'm contradicting you because what you are saying doesn't make sense.

                    8 points
      • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 1 year ago

        Material UI is for web and desktop, too.

        Autosave is fine, but if you do any user testing of your product you'll find a lot of people who get confused / concerned about ensuring their work is saved - particularly if you live in a country where internet is unstable. Having an explicit save button is invaluable for reassuring your users.

        9 points
      • Josh Sanders, over 1 year ago

        Saving makes no sense anymore, when was the last time anyone had to save anything on mobile (maybe a draft email, that is done via canceling/closing).

        Pretty sure every time I take a screenshot on my phone, I'm prompted with, "Save to Photos?" iPhoneX... I'd say that's pretty current mobile device still using the concept of 'Save.' But hey, let's continuously argue moot points while presenting no viable solution.

        1 point
      • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, over 1 year ago

        Saving makes no sense anymore, when was the last time anyone had to save anything on mobile

        Literally every day

        1 point
  • Michael RurkaMichael Rurka, over 1 year ago

    Haven't we eliminated 'saving' altogether?

    I must've missed the memo XD

    there's a whole generation that grew up with touchscreens.

    There are other generations besides your own in this world XD

    6 points
  • Dario Vaccaro, over 1 year ago

    You mad that the search icon is a magnifying glass too? Who has used a magnifying glass on a regular basis this century? It's about what the icon represents now not the callback to the physical manifestation that the icon is based upon. There's no logic behind the argument that we should choose a new icon because the whole point of an icon is to represent an action or object in the best way possible

    5 points
  • Dewa WidyakumaraDewa Widyakumara, over 1 year ago

    It's 2018 and the English Language still uses dial as the verb for operating a phone or make a phone call to someone by choosing a particular series of numbers on the phone.

    See for yourself

    5 points
  • Cormac Maher, over 1 year ago

    "So there's really no better analogy? "

    No there isn't, it's an established metaphor, it's salient, and everyone understands what clicking it does. The suggestion that it should be changed, simply because floppy disks don't exist anymore is completely ridiculous.

    4 points
  • Roman PohoreckiRoman Pohorecki, over 1 year ago

    We're still using the floppy disk because we haven't found a better substitute.

    100 years from now the icon may persist in a more abstract form and only a handful of experts will know how it came to be. This is how written language evolves.

    4 points
    • Darren Treat, over 1 year ago

      Exactly! But probably closer to 35 years, the floppy pretty much died in the late 90s.

      I feel as if there is an entire field of ideas and concepts that often get more covered as what they were intended to mean or be rather than what they actually are in a world that has passed it by.

      The mail icon in emails for people who don't use the post anymore, the phone icon, the video camera icon in FaceTime and camera apps, camera icons themselves. Is it skeuomorphism anymore if the skeuomorphic product completely destroys the existence of the thing that icon was designed after and now that icon represents a concept rather than an object?

      0 points
      • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, over 1 year ago

        Floppy disks didn't die in the 90's, although usage was decreasing. Companies like Kodak were selling cameras using 3.5" disks as late as 2002 - you'd probably say the early 00's was when floppies "died".

        In saying that, it would surprise many people here at how many industries still rely on floppies for outdated proprietary machines.

        1 point
  • Chris PhanChris Phan, over 1 year ago

    Wish I could downvote this negativity.

    4 points
    • Account deleted over 1 year ago

      Then start a thread on a design subreddit and see how that goes. Downvoting isn't some miraculous answer to everything on the internet.

      1 point
  • Frédéric AudetFrédéric Audet, over 1 year ago

    Don't fix something that ain't broken

    3 points
  • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, over 1 year ago

    " I personally don't use [this thing] therefore no one else in human society must use it either! "

    3 points
  • Joe AlfonsoJoe Alfonso, over 1 year ago

    Fair point, but do you have any solutions you would propose? Any shared affordances or mental models that people might have developed?

    In reference to one of the discussions in here, instant saving is still something very new to people. Seeing the save explicitly happen creates a security for the user and assures them. I work with teachers and students, and even though we instantly save, and have informed the users, having an explicit "saving..." state almost always tests better. A little off topic of the icon case, but having a save function, at least for now, is still very valuable. Of course after a while products needs to dictate this change and press through the discomfort and feedback, knowing when and where to remove it is difficult. It's a gradual change like anything else.

    2 points
  • Weston VierreggerWeston Vierregger, over 1 year ago

    inbox, calendar, explore, date, phone/call, video, vpn key, send, attach file, folder... all of these have icon analogies that are even more outdated than a floppy disc.

    2 points
  • Ben RamseyBen Ramsey, over 1 year ago

    An icon is only as good the meaning that is assigned to it and learned. In this case, the association of a disk may seem irrelevant, but the meaning — even to those that have not ever used a disk, is likely understood from learned behavior.

    So is it a problem? I've never done usability testing on anything with a save function.

    Seems like this thread is also conflating the UX feature of autosave vs save, and the icon used to communicate that function (title of the thread.)

    2 points
  • Ken Em, over 1 year ago

    "Haven't we eliminated 'saving' altogether?" -- Uh, no? Not on touch-based devices.

    2 points
    • John PJohn P, over 1 year ago

      Only on extremely dumbed down phone and tablet apps. Not in real software you operate with a keyboard

      0 points
  • Darren Treat, over 1 year ago

    Does it matter? Who cares what it represents other than save. Everyone else uses it so it's no longer some storage format. Nor is it some past storage format anymore. It is the universal icon for save. :) This is similar to the Heart (♥️) icon being the standard for love despite having no normal real connected object. (Supposedly it is something about butts? lol) Does it need to represent anything else?

    1 point
  • Marcel van Werkhoven, over 1 year ago

    This week we said to one of our interns: "Click on the floppy" She asked: "What's a floppy?"

    I agree it's time to retire this icon.

    1 point
    • jeremy silverjeremy silver, over 1 year ago

      What's a click?

      I think referring to the icon by it's source material instead of it's function was the actual issue in your described interaction.

      If the save icon was being developed for the first time in 2018 using a floppy disk would not make sense. My opinion on this isn't that people recognize the stylized object or understand its historical reference, it's the people have come to associate a square with a corner missing with another shape (mostly a rectangle) in the middle as the way to commit the current state of the document into storage.

      To play a video you click the triangle; square to stop; two rectangles to pause. These are just shapes that now have an attached meaning when seen in context. I don't see the save icon being interpreted any differently.

      4 points
    • . h, over 1 year ago

      Well... you said "click on the FLOPPY"

      1 point
  • Nelson TarucNelson Taruc, over 1 year ago

    I'm fascinated by this debate and I believe both sides are right. Over time, icons are accepted and understood by people to represent things long after the physical counterpart is gone, such as floppies. Why fix what isn't broken?

    That said, I think as designers it's fine to challenge the status quo … "We've always done it this way" isn't always a good thing.

    1 point
  • iterati design, over 1 year ago

    BTW, the last Apple device with a floppy drive was released over 20 years ago. iMac G3 was the first to drop it in 1998.

    0 points
  • Elias Proctor, over 1 year ago

    I feel like the floppy disc 'save' icon is interchangeable with the 'download' icon in most regards. But then again, I'm always designing web applications, so it might be different for local apps.

    0 points
  • Jay Tyagi, over 1 year ago

    Human habits

    0 points
  • Account deleted over 1 year ago

    On professional level save function is going to exist. It's impossible to just close after effects in the middle of the production. There's no such thing. If I'm creating a content controlled by me, I'd like to have the save controlled by myself too.

    Also, I've noticed that you're defending the article with your whole dear life. Chill, it's just a floppy disk. Maybe instead of focusing your attention here, why don't you do a short research on floppy disks and old diskette hardwares. Have you ever heard a thing datasette? or a4 sized floppy disks? I mean go and get inspired! Be a designer!

    0 points
  • Paul ArmstrongPaul Armstrong, over 1 year ago

    Visual communication doesn't always directly relate to current relevance.

    Most people don't use phone headsets anymore, but we still know what it means when we see it. Being clever and new doesn't always translate ...

    Does this baby have ass rain? Is it bleeding? Is the mom throwing it away?

    What might be an alternative (to save/floppy) that users universally would understand?

    0 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, over 1 year ago

    So?

    0 points
  • Jian Wei LiauJian Wei Liau, over 1 year ago

    I still use the save icon as my avatar, it's very distinctive. Ditto what others have mention, no point reinventing the wheel. I see many attempts trying to on the new save icon, looks either like download or no clue what it means.

    0 points
  • Wouter RamakerWouter Ramaker, over 1 year ago

    LukeW save icon

    0 points
  • Lauren Olson, over 1 year ago

    I've always liked save icons that are basically arrows going into a box, although I guess that doubles as a "download"style icon too. Would be hard to replace the epic floppy disk though!!

    0 points