Why the Floppy Disk Icon for “Save” Must Die
Floppy disks are a thing of the past. People used them to store digital data, but not anymore. You won’t find them in computers today, but you can see remnants of their existence on the “Save” icon.
Using the floppy disk icon to save data made sense back then, but it doesn’t feel right to keep using it because future generations of users won’t recognize what it means.
The floppy disk is old, obsolete technology with an expired lifespan like videotapes and cassette tapes. If users weren’t exposed to floppy disks growing up, it’d look foreign to them as an icon.
Assigning the floppy disk icon for “Save” was not a good choice from the beginning. Saving data is such a common action that it needs a timeless icon everyone can recognize. This way, the icon will become a part of a universal interface language that all users are familiar with, no matter what year it is.
For example, the “X” icon for closing elements is timeless and universal. Users across different cultures and timelines understand its meaning. This level of recognition is how all icons for standard interface actions should be.
It’s time for designers to put the floppy disk icon to rest once and for all. Instead, a better icon for “Save” is a bookmark ribbon.
People are familiar with reading books and using bookmarks to save their progress. Translating this metaphor to a bookmark icon for saving data isn’t farfetched. It also corresponds well with common office metaphors such as trash, documents, and files.
The bookmark ribbon icon is timeless because books have been around for centuries and will likely never die. Everyone knows what a book is and is familiar with bookmarking. Therefore, the bookmark ribbon is the perfect icon for “Save.”
If you’re used to seeing things one way, any change will seem off initially. It may take time to get used to this icon change for some users. However, killing the floppy disk and appointing the bookmark ribbon as its successor is the best decision for posterity.
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