adobe CS3 icons

So on Friday, Adobe released a public beta of Photoshop CS3. And while graphic geeks everywhere were giggling over the chance to play with new versions of Photoshop, Bridge, and some other add-on stuff, I noticed a few things.

First, I should start by revealing that last week Adobe released a full version of Adobe Reader 8. I noticed that they changed the icon set and interface design, so of course I wondered if this would be a change across the line. Apparently, it is.

I was, and still am, I huge fan of the branding for the Creative Suite, especially the CS2, which was an evolution of the first creative suite. I liked how the featherrs, flowers, shells, butterflies, etc. represented the applications. Very well done associating seemingly pointless symbols with software. Rock solid branding.

So why the change? Why switch from pictoral icons to a rather sterile two-letter abbreviation? I have to admit that I like the change back to square icons instead of the rounded corners, but I can live round. The new ones are flatter, less bubbly-glassy and certainly more mature. When I first saw the new icons, I couldn’t help but think of the Periodic Table of Elements. (Br is the chemical symbol for Bromine, although Ps is not assigned. Il (for Illustrator) and Id (for InDesign) are also not assigned.)

I suspect two things: One, Adobe is running from the copycats. With Creative Suite already past two versions, I’m sure the icon set and general aesthetic has been copied dozens of times, although I can’t seem to think of any examples. I always thought they were quite original.

Second, they are trying to appeal to a more ‘non-designy’ audience. You know, the type who use Windows and work in Finance. Maybe they see butterflies and flowers as a bit too fu-fu and fanciful. They need something with a bit of stubble.

There is another thing to consider – will Adobe make it stick? This is, after all, only a beta, and the full version of Creative Suite is not scheduled to hit shelves for another 4-6 months. Maybe they’ll surprise everyone and come up with something completely different.

In conclusion, it’s not that I don’t like the icon system and overall design approach, I just don’t see the need for the change. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix. You know.