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I've been comin' to gamedev since around when it started, and have been having a repeat experience:

  • I log onto the site after perhaps half a week to a week away.

  • I see a weird icon of a rectangle with a V inside it in orange and red.

  • I have no idea whether that means I have new stuff or not, so I click on it.

  • Hey, I have new replies! That weird icon and color did mean that I had unread replies! I have no idea why!

Finally, after having repeated that experience a few times, when I logged on today, I analyzed it and decided to compare it to other stackexchange sites to figure out what that icon was supposed to be, and as per stackoverflow, it's supposed to represent an envelope.

Obviously, my end of the problem is solved. I understand that that icon is supposed to represent an envelope, and from here on out I'm not going to have any confusion. Nevertheless, I think that my experience might be indicative of a lack of clarity for the icon that would carry over to new users especially.

To break down the problem a little more:

  1. The icon is stylizedly pixelated to a low resolution, so much so that it's basic envelope shape is essentially lost. No recognition that it is an envelope, little meaning conveyed.
  2. The unread color for the icon is red, which is at odds with 99.9% of envelopes anyone is likely to encounter (which are generally white or light colors). Again, no envelope-like color, little meaning conveyed.

I recognize that the style of the site is designed towards pixelation to represent the games of our golden age... ...but the style seems to sacrifice recognition just a little bit in this case.

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Sacrifice some of the stylization in favor of a bit more pixel resolution. It could still be blocky, just less so. More pixelz -> more clear diagonal lines -> more envelopey shape.

Edit: Edited the envelope part of the sprite to see what might work, including the original first:

AlternativesAttached

AltOnGrey

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the non pixely one. The default one looks like a pixely heart in a box. \$\endgroup\$ – AttackingHobo Dec 6 '10 at 17:14
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@Tchalvak thanks for the icon suggestion! I have used your 4th one in the sprites. The change should be in production(parent and meta site) soon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool. Good to know. \$\endgroup\$ – Kzqai Dec 27 '10 at 2:00
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Make it white with red accents instead of red with orange accents. White -> more envelopey. And higher contrast.

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