I had this idea to do a constructive break-down of all the iOS productivity applications in the Apple App Store that used the checkmark/tick as the primary/secondary design focus.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at some of the many app icons that utilise the ever popular checkmark/tick.
This wasn't about criticising or highlighting badly or brilliantly designed icons—there are some wonderfully designed checkmark styled icons like Cheddar, Things, OmniFocus—it was simply going to be a sobering run down of how many apps use this overused visual image.
This wasn't even going to be about saying the checkmark is a bad idea, because it really isn't so bad. Sometimes it's hard to reinvent the wheel when a visual image, like the checkmark, has very real roots within the practical and physical (hands, pen and paper) world.
The checkmark has attained this, almost, symbiotic link with the productivity iOS app, and used as the defacto visual icon.
With so many competeting productivity applications using the same visual checkmark for the icon, and quite often the actual brand identity, I can't help but feel a little frustrated about it. If this shows just one thing: there are far far too many to-do-list applications that don't offer anything new/better that the other million apps don't offer.
The Post Prep
I started prepping the post by looking through the Tunes App Store Productivity category picking out each app icon that uses the checkmark.
Worth noting that there are 7655 apps within the Productivity category, and that's just the iPhone Paid applications.
My heart sunk at such a large number of applications to go through, but I started in earnest. There were 180 results per page with 43 pages to wade through. Clearly a huge amount, but I figured I could just screengrab each one and fly through pretty quickly.
Ha. Ha bloody ha.
By page 8 my eyes were bleeding, by page 13 I had lost the battle to want to take any more air into my lungs.
I want to reiterate that the Hall of Shame has nothing to do with calling out badly designed icons—although some are just hideous—it is, however, about highlighting an apparent lack of creativity, and imagination, when faced with having to design an icon for a to-do-list app. The one exception is if your app is called Checkmark!
The image above contains just the app icons gathered from the first 13 of 43 pages from Productivity category in the Paid iPhone (not iPad) section.
With another 30 pages to go I simply gave up with the stupid crazy assed idea. I will assume that there are more checkmark/tick icons in the following 30 pages, the Free section, in other categories and iPad only applications etc etc.
Can we just PLEASE have a little more thought put into iOS productivity app naming (Remember The Milk) so that icons other than checkmarks might be used? Please?
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