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Buttons are things you push; icons are things you look at. If you push
it to make something happen, it's a button. In computerese, "pushing"
means single-clicking with the primary mouse button. If you double-click
or use a different mouse button, you're doing something else -- "launching,"
perhaps -- but not pushing.
Icons are things you look at. While pushability is inherent in the
concept of buttons, there is no implication of verbability in an icon.
An icon may just sit there and do nothing at all; an informative, decorative,
or random piece of graphics on the screen.
Buttons are to be pushed; icons are to be viewed. The functions are
implied by the common, non-computer uses of the terms. The whole concept
of intuitive computer use rests on unsubtle borrowing from the non-computer
world, so it would be pretty silly to allow the definitions to drift.
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139
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