New Product Icons for Office 2007


One of the projects our design team has been working on for the last year or so has been the development of a new suite of product icons for Office 2007.


Here are the 32×32 versions of the icons which will appear in the final product:



The design team has been working on these icons for quite a long time; it has been a significant design challenge to make the icons feel like a family, yet for each to be symbolic enough to stand out on its own. Each of the designs has to scale all the way from a huge 128×128 full-color alpha-blended icon for Windows Vista down to an itty-bitty 8×8 badge on top of a 16-color document icon.


Interestingly, even something seemingly as innocuous as changing the product icons has a usability component.


The icon is the main way people differentiate programs on the Windows taskbar. While a single color for all program icons would have made the branding of the suite more consistent, it has the side effect of making it harder for people to find the program they want to switch to.


People have a strong expectation to click a green icon for Excel, a blue one for Word, and a yellow one for Outlook–and so, in the end, we wanted to create designs that take advantage of those expectations. You’ll see that many design elements from the classic icons, including the W for Word, the X for Excel, and the key for Access, have been retained as well.


You can find more information about these icons and other ongoing design work on the official Office design page.

Comments (56)

  1. BlakeHandler says:

    While they are very pretty — I hate to say that I’m unsure which icons go with which Office program. (OK, except for Word, Excel etc)

  2. Charlie says:

    Nothing to be sorry for, Blake.  You know what Excel, Word, and Outlook are from familiarity.  Noone can be expected to design a 32×32 icon that will explain a software application to a new user.  That’s not what they’re there for.  

  3. Joel Bernstein says:

    Will these icons be displayed in the upper left corner of Office apps, where the Office logo currently is?

  4. Jensen Harris confirmed on his blog today that the before-mentioned icons from the Microsoft Design website

  5. I think they indeed are very pretty and very Vista-like in there style and shape. The icons for Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Groove and Project are easy reconizeable – and then there are some new ones… 🙂

  6. Doug Mahugh says:

    I saw a reference to the official Office design page in Jensen Harris’s latest post. It’s really cool,…

  7. Ben R. says:

    Jensen,

    Could you edit the post to let us know which icons go with which programs? I can guess a few of them (the "n" is OneNote, for example, and the key and "W" are Access and Word), but I’m curious about the rest.

  8. Rob says:

    Word, InfoPath, Outlook, Visio, Access, Excel, Project, Publisher, PowerPoint, OneNote, Groove, Communicator?

  9. John Topley says:

    Word    ?      Outlook

    Visio   Access Excel

    ?       ?      PowerPoint

    OneNote ?      ?

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Word    InfoPath      Outlook

    Visio   Access Excel

    ?       Publisher?      PowerPoint

    OneNote Groove      ?

  11. Dan says:

    Adding to John Topley’s:

    Word    (Info Path?)  Outlook

    Visio   Access        Excel

    ?       (Publisher?)  PowerPoint

    OneNote ?             (Project?)

    Is Frontpage in there somewhere?  Is that still considered part of Office?  And what’s Groove and Communicator?

  12. Word, InfoPath, Outlook, Visio, Access, Excel, Project, Publisher, PowerPoint, OneNote, Groove, Office Communicator.

    Where is SharePoint Designer and Office InterConnect?

  13. Simon says:

    I think the 7th icon (the green jagged arrow) is for Small Business Accounting.

  14. sloan says:

    They are definitely a different style. My concern would be how soft they are for readability and identification purposes. The gradients and colored backgrounds seem to make them harder to identify. Have you tested them and if so, what did you find?

  15. monish says:

    Although I think the icons are pretty cool, I agree with sloan about the concern for readability.  When I’m working I have tons of colors and icons everywhere.  A large W for word (as the icon appears now) seems to work. But again I’m interested in knowing how usability testing turns out.  I think maintaining the colors (a sign that branding is working) is just good design.

  16. Rob says:

    Yes, the 1st column, third row looks more like SB Accounting than Project. Interesting how I saw speech bubbles in the final icon and suggested Communicator, whereas others have seen Project charts instead. Interesting feedback for the design team!

  17. Ian Sinke says:

    Go by the color. 2nd col, 3rd row, for instance, must be Publisher because that is the same color as the old Publisher icon.

    I think:

    Word           InfoPath       Outlook

    Visio          Access         Excel

    SB Accounting  Publisher      PowerPoint

    OneNote        Groove         Project

    Rob: I never thought of them as speech bubbles. Maybe the design team should put some sort of gray grid behind that to emphasize the Project bars (If it is project!)

    Ian Sinke

    PS. Dan: FrontPage no longer exists.

  18. Nate says:

    shouldn’t there be 256×256 for Vista?

  19. superrcat says:

    Before I write anything, I am only offering this as constructive criticism!

    I think there was obviously good effort put into the icons, but I really feel this is a great opportunity to do more as this is the first time in a long time that there is a substantial change to the applications icons.

    With the limitations of the taskbar icons (the taskbar itself needs to be eventually rethought, but I’ll avoid that right now), color is a good way to still be symbolic for the user, unless that user is color blind or has a vision impairment.

    But that is not the target audience for the icons anyway, so moving to my feedback:

    @Charlie: "Nothing to be sorry for, Blake.  You know what Excel, Word, and Outlook are from familiarity.  Noone can be expected to design a 32×32 icon that will explain a software application to a new user.  That’s not what they’re there for."

    I would like to point to Apple’s design of their application icons, not to be pro or con for companies or platforms, I am mentioning this from a design perspective. Apple does a very nice job at communicating the function of a program with a familiar icon, even at 32×32. Examples would be TextEdit, Preview, as well as Keynote, iChat and iTunes.

    But there is still the need to make the application suite appear unified, and I believe that is why you are using the background shape with color for each icon. While others have attempted to do that, they attempt to do it more subtile I think, like Adobe and Macromedia.

    What I am getting at is, I really would like to see some high quality icons that better displays what it is the application does than the icon set above. Above, the background takes on too much focus, which makes attempts at displaying what the application does less effective.

    I think if the shortcut names are going to reside in the Microsoft Office directory and have Microsoft Office included in the shortcut name, as well as having a common UI that has the Office logo at the top left of the screen, your user will know they are using an Office application.

    I just wanted to give this feedback and hope that the design group and management can at least give it some thought and consideration.

    Thanks!

    -Jason

  20. C. Moya says:

    Dear lord! Who cares about this!???

    Talk about the depecrated inconsistent and unintuitive MDI interface in Excel and Powerpoint!!! Have you fixed that so that it works like Word… or better yet, sports a modern Tabbed interface???

    And similarly, while this isn’t Vista blog, explain why the Taskbar hasn’t fundamentally changed in 11 years and is HORRIBLE when you have a lot of windows open.

    I don’t see any innovation here.

    This blog used to be good. But it’s just pure fluff now.

  21. steveg says:

    C Moya: one person’s fluff is another person’s partner. Or something like that.

    Office team, like the icons, i see these as the appropriate spot to do your product branding — they’re on the screen all the time. But what about the File menu looking like the office logo and not a file menu? It’s kind of like in-show advertising.

    [i know I keep mentioning the File menu/office logo thing, you’re probably as bored of hearing it as I am of saying it, but look what happened to Family Guy and Futurama. Who knows maybe one day the O2007 File menu will look like a file menu, and they’ll bring back  Firefly].

  22. Phylyp says:

    Slick icons. I like them!

  23. Take a look at the new Microsoft Office 2007 icons! The icon for PowerPoint 2007 is on the third row,…

  24. Francis says:

    C. Moya: Word also has an MDI interface. All the programs function identically in this regard. To change this behavior (MDI to SDI), go to File->Options->Advanced->Show all windows in the Taskbar.

    I, for one, love MDI. It makes weeding through 150 Excel files at a time a snap.

  25. I was expecting something glassier, brighter, and with more presence. I can tell them apart just fine, so at least there’s that, But I don’t really like them.

  26. Jack says:

    I like them.

  27. C. Moya says:

    Francis: MDI isn’t the problem (though it is deprecated). It’s the inconsistent unintuitive SDI (Windows in Taskbar… which is the DEFAULT). Word sports a true SDI. Excel, Powerpoint (and others in the Office family) sport pseudo confusing SDI that’s really MDI. This blog (not by me) illustrates the differences.

    http://www.sturmnet.org/blog/archives/2006/05/30/office-2007-can-we-decide-on-a-ui-document-model-please/

    I hear "how come I can’t position two Excel documents side by side?" (I have to point them to the Window menu… or the 2nd level window buttons which incidentally PowerPoint does not have but Excel does)…. Or "how come I can’t see one Excel document on one monitor and another in another monitor." (no help there… the solution is incredibly unintuitive).

    This is a long standing problem. I can’t fathom that Office 2007 doesn’t address it…. Access 2007 seems to get it right… and Frontpage has done it well since Office 2003.

    Consistency please?

  28. J says:

    I’m disappointed.

    All of that effort, and THIS is the end result?

    They seem very mid-90s.

  29. Prince says:

    they look pretty nice

  30. Mike says:

    FrontPage is not so much gone as renamed.  It’s now SharePoint Designer.  

  31. I think that the design of those icon is still missing something.

    I didn’t thought about this since I saw this post: Office doesn’t have ANY brand identity.

    Each new release completely kills the previous graphic elements and bring in new ones.

    Think about this: Office is a critical brand for M$ and still doesn’t have any *fixed* and *unique* logo. This is against any vision of brand building.

    Seeing the icons, I notice the same pattern repeating, in a small scale. Still, the only "logotypal" element is the W and the X… there from the first Windows version of Office.

    The Office suite (and quite any M$ product, starting from the "Microsoft" non-logo) is completely missing an identity, both now and yesterday.

    Design a logo for Office, design a complementar logo for Word, Excel and any other program in the suite. Then start USING it, from the icon to the ad (great idea using it in the top-left icon space).

    And don’t throw it away completely in each Office revision.

  32. CM says:

    I completely agree with the previous post. Each new Office is just idiotically jarring for no good reason. I mean, it’s like the Office Team say to themselves "how can we make Office look like NO OTHER Windows application?"….

    that’s not "setting your product apart"… it’s lending to a confusing and inconsistent Windows Environment (um, how many different type of rebars, coolbars, etc are there now?).

    They spend all this time redesigning "look and feel" and no time at all drilling down to improving the fundamentals (like the HORRIBLE dialogs in Office…. like Word’s Styles or AutoText, etc dialog boxes… that haven’t changed since Windows 3.1).

    I think the Ribbon in 2007 is OK. But come on… it’s really just an exploded menu. And, to me, a redesign like this has been needed for 5 years. That it is coming now is just a sad testament to Microsoft stagnation for well over 6 years.

  33. AN says:

    One of the screenshots on the Microsoft Excel 2007 blog shows the Excel icon before the Home tab (see http://blogs.msdn.com/excel/archive/2006/08/14/699841.aspx).  I guess this is the button for Windows 3.1 lovers that Jensen referred to in "You Windows 3.1 Lovers!".  Jensen could mention this in a future post.

  34. alexis geovanny zelaya fuentes says:

    ningun comentario

    tadavia

  35. Eduardo says:

    Beautiful!

  36. Andrew Wiseman says:

    I notice that the new icons all feature a curved top-right corner, perhaps to mirror the same curve that appears in the apps themselves. Except they don’t anymore, because the curve has been removed! Back to the drawing board? 🙂

  37. keith says:

    why is the sharepoint designer icon on the start menu still blank. i installed b2tr and saw on the office folder that it already has an icon.

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