Apple, by contrast, eschews such practical advice in favor of establishing guiding principles for an application’s iconographic language. They take the trouble to draw distinctions between, and set rules for, various types of icons, e.g., application icons, accessory icons, utility icons, document icons, preferences and plug-in icons, etc. There’s even a subsection entitled Conveying an Emotional Quality in Icons. Given material this rich it’s apparent why the Mac OS is so conducive to quality design.
Of course, it’s just as fair to fault Apple for falling down on the job of giving interface designers real-world help. Apple is being faithful to its reputation for design fussiness here, exactly the kind of preaching that turns off many computer users. It’s obvious that I’m not one of those users, and how can I be when the company offers advice of this sort:
For great-looking Aqua icons, have a professional graphic designer create them.