When was the last time you paid any attention to the icons used inside Ubuntu’s window controls?
No. Can’t say I have ever done so, either.
But that’s (oddly) a good thing. Good icons don’t require the user to think: the brain sees them and passively processes what they’re about. Or something along those lines.
But then someone sent me a link to this image: -
As a user my expectation is that “minimise”, much like the dictionary definition, reduces; makes small; lessens things.
To most of us that translates as an expectation that something will go down (as opposed to shift to the side). We’re socialised into thinking that smaller equals less. Since we want a window to be “less” than it is, a horizontal line for an icon is probably the only optimal way of depicting this. It can also be viewed as a ‘minus’ sign – designed to ‘subtract’ the window from the workspace.
All salient metaphors that our unconscious can process without disturbing us.
But, from a literal experience point of view, applications do (in Ubuntu) minimise to the left. So shouldn’t the ‘minimise’ icon reflect this?
A vertical line, whilst being literally correct, would probably cause people to stop and ask themselves: ‘wait, what?’.
And when we want a window out of the way the last thing we need to do is analyse out options for getting it there.