Because the simple things in life are often the best

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NetNewsWire icons

I love NetNewsWire. If you’re into RSS (and you should be), NNW is the best reader on the block. I’ve tried quite a few in my time, but I’ve always come back to NNW. I won’t go into why, suffice to say it looks good, and works well.

The icon, however, doesn’t get the same endorsement from me. That is, the current NNW icon (third in the lineup above). It’s beautifully detailed and drawn to be sure, but the overall shape and possibly the visual complexity is what I dislike. In a seemingly hypocritical statement, the NNW icons for iPad and iPhone are too basic for my tastes. They look a little disjointed inconsistent to me; the ‘photorealism’ of the glow around the radiating lines doesn’t gel so well with the lines on the crescent dish and the simplified, icon-like separation of the radar knob[1. Not the correct term, I’m sure.] from the dish.

The original NNW icon (first in the lineup above) was pretty good, and for a long time I’ve been looking for a download of NNW version 1 just so I could snatch the icon. I’ve never found it. So I went looking for replacement icons, and found a great one at bartleme design (second in then lineup above). I’ve had this one (and the graphite variation) in use for a long time, and it served it purpose — my happiness — well.

But after designing my iCS5 icons this week, I’ve been wanting something simpler. Icon Factory/David Lanham’s Flurry icons were a perfect place to start. Flurry extras 4 had a replacement icon for NNW, but it’s only a crop of the current icon which doesn’t do much for my happiness.

Then I saw the humble RSS feed icon in Flurry extras 1, and I felt like a weary adventurer finally stumbling across the mythical holy grail! It was a moment of clarity — a designer’s nirvana perhaps. It just made sense: an RSS icon for an RSS reader.

You might be thinking, “duh, how obvious”, but let’s take a closer look at why this is so slap-the-forehead perfect:

  1. The RSS icon of orange square with quarter-circle radiating lines is the default icon for RSS. It’s recognised throughout the internet, in the same the blue bird in all its forms is the default image for Twitter. When I want my feeds, it makes sense to look for an RSS feed icon.
  2. It works for me. And you. And Bob. And everyone. I assume most people use only one RSS reader application (online readers excepted). So, to me, RSS means NNW. To others, RSS mean NewsFire, or Vienna. If people are using one application for RSS, it doesn’t need to be differentiated by icon from others because there are no others.
  3. It’s not flippin’ blue! I can easily see it among my other icons when command-tabbing over on my Mac. This is important. This stuff makes me happy.

So, just like this Aussie Conflakes ad from the early 90s, I too believe the simple things in life are often the best. The RSS icon for NNW icon replacement is one such instance.

I might design my own icon though — a few shades of orange darker. I know, I know. *roll your eyes* Maybe I should get out more.