We have been searching for the right representation of SmartLinks and finally, we think found it. Here is what we came up with:
That’s right! The new SmartLinks icons are the miniature versions of the larger icons that show up in your Firefox toolbar.
We are really excited about this change and here is why. Since early days we felt like this would be the right thing to do but we had two challenges.
The first challenge was presenting our brand across the web. We were concerned about people not recognizing the icons unless they would all look the same. For this reason we first used the blue target symbol and then later the arrow. We found that there is a problem with the arrow. People interpret this sign based on usage on other sites like Wikipedia where arrows indicate that you will be leaving the site. Clearly, SmartLinks are not like that at all - you stay on the page and get additional information in an overlay, but people do not realize that.
The second challenge was actually technical. It turns out that it is really hard to tell the type of thing just based on the link alone. For example, for any Amazon link, you can’t know if its a book or a movie without looking at the page. So we were pondering how we can solve this problem.
In the end, we decided to take the leap and roll out new icons. We reasoned that first of all, these icons represent things and are much stronger indicator of actual object being embedded on the page. These icons carry semantics with them. And most importantly, when you see them, you feel that they are right.
The technical challenge remains but it is solved in a way that many complex problems are solved on the web these days - by tapping into users. When you first blog Amazon SmartLink that no one has blogged before, the image is going to be the standard AdaptiveBlue icon. As soon as the first user clicks that icon from that point on, the correct icon will appear. In a way, our system will learn what the object is behind that link and then leverage this knowledge in the future. So by clicking on the SmartLinks first time you are being good citizen of the community and helping other people see the true object behind the link right away.
If you have SmartLinks on your blog, you should see the new icons today. BlueOrganizer users will need to either wait a couple of days or clear their cache to get the new icons, since Firefox keeps scripts and images in the cache for sometime.
To wrap up, here are some more new icons:
Once again, we are thrilled to roll this out! Sometimes little things make the biggest difference. Sometimes the simplest answer takes a long time to get to!
We are eager to hear your feedback, how do you like the new icons?