I have no problem with icons, neither in churches nor on web pages, but of the latter: unless your navigational images are immediately and unquestionably recognizable by anyone and everyone in every context, then what you wind up cooking-up for your visitors is a heaping pile of MysteryMeat Navigation.
As a husband and father, I do alot of waiting. It’s my seven year old you see. Her schedule and sense of timing and priorities are so much – MUCH different than that of my wife or myself. So the other day, while my wife wrestled to get some socks on my wiggly kid, I grabbed a book off a shelf and did that mindless reading thing. Because of the room I was in, I grabbed a copy of THE BOOK … well not THAT BOOK … but the book that I helped write almost five and a half years ago..
Turning to chapter 8, page 165 next to, figure 8.16 and 8.17, Vincent Flanders warns us that “The Two Most Powerful Forces Known To God and Men Have Fallen Victim to Mystery Meat.” Remarking that “Nobody is safe” he describes one of the evils as “Holy Mystery Meat!” where he comments that the website for the Vatican, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, uses Mystery meat as a navigational aid on parts of it sites.
What is Mystery Meat Navigation, or MMN for short? See that question mark in red to the left of this article? Before you move your mouse over it, guess what the button does? Can’t guess? Yup, that’s the problem with MMN. While it may look and feel slick, it confuses your users. Gets in the way of their purpose-driven browsing if you will.
Now mind you, I have no problem with icons in churches nor on web pages, BUT: unless the images you use for navigation are immediately and unquestionably recognizable by all viewers in all contexts, then you’re probably better off reserving MMN for an online game application.