I'm very excited reveal my latest new icon design for endo, a syndicated feed reader developed by Adriaan Tijsseling. This new app approaches syndicated feeds as "streams" rather than the common "email app" approach most aggregators use.
The icon was developed in collaboration with Adriaan, the developer of blogging tool ecto and Flickr stream manager 1001, which I'd designed the icon for last year. While we worked out the new icon, I'd been under an NDA with Adriaan (as design director at MakaluMedia) but since endo has been released, I'm free to share. :-)
(Click on graphics below to see full sketches)
Initial Concepts v1
I began the project by writing out thoughts and sketching some initial ideas, and having designed the 1001 icon, felt that the icons might benefit from having a "family" feeling between them. So, when you look at the initial v1 sketches I did, you can see this quite clearly.
While the final icon veered quite a bit from the initial sketches, I like to point out that very often a designer must work through what is in their heads in order to progress to the next step — a bit like flushing out the immediate ideas to get at the deeper ideas.
In the second round of sketches, I began exploring the idea of different shapes, shapes breaking planes and swirls of data surrounding shapes. As endo was to be different than other aggregator/readers because it treats feeds as "streams" I wanted to convey the idea of a stream of data — as chaotic swirl or plane.
While breaking a plane was an interesting concept, the more chaotic swirl appealed to both Adriaan and me, because it felt much more like the real net, with wild streams of feeds spinning out of control. Endo was to be the calm in the midst of this storm of data; helping its users wade through this swirling cloud.
In my 3rd revision of sketches, I focused entirely on the idea of a swirling cloud of data, surrounding various shapes. You can see in the larger sketch that circular swirl with a central "hub" containing a magnifying glass at the center of the swirl. This represented the application at the center, filtering good signal from the noise. These concepts were attractive to both Adriaan and I, though we both wanted to see one more round to finalize the concept before I went to Fireworks and Photoshop on the Mac.
In this round, Adriaan had the idea to include the newly standardized Feed Icon, which is already used in Firefox (and will also be used in IE7), so I tried several icons with the Feed icon integrated. I tried a variety of angles, until in sketch E you can see the idea of having the feed icon appear in the central hub and also appear in the shadow below, since the central hub would be transparent (like a marble).
Once Adriaan and I saw sketch E, we were both in love. Adriaan gave the Ok to move to the Mac, and there, the new endo icon was born, using Fireworks to build the icon (with vectors and layers) and then exported in Photoshop, using the excellent IconBuilder 8 from IconFactory.
Only minor tweaks were needed to finalize the icon on the Mac and deliver the needed icon, and source files Adriaan needed to spruce up his endo application and the new Kula website.
I'm very pleased with the new endo icon; it's simple, different and I think conveys the concept of a feed aggregator sifting signal out of the syndication noise — just the idea Adriaan was trying to convey with his very different application. One commenter on the BWANA Weblog suggested the endo icon "has the best application icon since Shiira." which was flattering indeed. :-)
Thanks Adriaan for trusting in me to help on this project and all of his excellent collaboration. Working on this project was truly a pleasure!
If you're on Mac OS X and want a alternate way of deal with feeds, try out endo. It offers a very different approach, which may just suit your needs.