Semantic distance as a critical factor in icon design for in-car infotainment systems

Johanna M. Silvennoinen*, Tuomo Kujala, Jussi P.P. Jokinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In-car infotainment systems require icons that enable fluent cognitive information processing and safe interaction while driving. An important issue is how to find an optimised set of icons for different functions in terms of semantic distance. In an optimised icon set, every icon needs to be semantically as close as possible to the function it visually represents and semantically as far as possible from the other functions represented concurrently. In three experiments (N = 21 each), semantic distances of 19 icons to four menu functions were studied with preference rankings, verbal protocols, and the primed product comparisons method. The results show that the primed product comparisons method can be efficiently utilised for finding an optimised set of icons for time-critical applications out of a larger set of icons. The findings indicate the benefits of the novel methodological perspective into the icon design for safety-critical contexts in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Icon
  • Safety-critical user interfaces
  • Semantic distance


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