Symbol of the Week: Destination Home

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I’ve decided to start a new series here on PG—commenting on one graphical symbol a week. My goal in adding this feature is to begin a stronger push for the better design and use of symbols.

This week’s symbol is ISO 7000-2635: Destination home—Designed to be used on automotive navigation systems to activate a route calculation that will take you home.

ISO 7000-2635: Destination home

At the recent PechaKucha Night San Francisco, one of the first slides I presented to the audience was of this very symbol, and my questions for them were, “Have you seen this before?” and “What does it mean?”. There were no answers or hands for the first question, and none of the several answers shouted out for the second were anywhere close to accurate.

I find a whole host of problems with this symbol. First, out of a crowd of 350 people at PechaKucha, not one of them had seen this before. OK, so it’s San Francisco, and many don’t have cars, but these are designers. This means that despite being standardized, virtually none of the GPS navigation manufacturers know about the symbol, or have even thought about the most common navigation task: going home. Also:

  • The house part of the symbol follows the precedent of other IEC/ISO house symbols, such as IEC 60417-5109, IEC 60417-5855, IEC 60417-6001, and IEC 60417-6002, but is stretched horizontally. I suspect this change may be enough to slow recognition. Why not just use the same aspect ratio?
  • The target symbol to indicate home is a destination is used for many other things, so is potentially confusing. The key problem here is that there is no ISO symbol for “here”, “you hare here”, “there”, or anything similar. There needs to be commonality on this. The existing symbol for evacuation point from the ISO safety symbols should have been used as the controlling precedent.
  • The arrow also looks slightly squashed.

Action Items

  • We need to design ISO 7000-2635B, which will use the standard house shape, the proper symbol template, and a different shape for the “there” component of the symbol.
  • Satellite navigation device designers need to start using this symbol. Ideally, there should be a dedicated hardware button, but an on-screen button would be a good start. And any device that responds to voice commands should display this symbol when responding to the command “navigate home”.

Author: Peter Sheerin

Peter Sheerin is best known for the decade he spent as the Technical Editor of CADENCE magazine, where he was the acknowledged expert in Computer-Aided Design hardware and software. He has a long-standing passion for improving usability of software, hardware, and everyday objects that is always interwoven in his articles. Peter is available for freelance technical writing and product reviews, and is exploring career opportunities in interaction design. His pet personal project is exploring the best ways to harmonize visual, tactile, and audible symbols for improving the effectiveness of alerting systems.

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