And here it is:
I think it works.
I realize some UI experts won’t agree with me on this.
I’ve been told many times over the years that the globe icon is insufficient for indicating language. That the globe represents geography or travel or “select country” — but not “select language.”
And while I agree that the globe icon may not be the best icon to indicate language, it works just fine.
Most people seem to understand its meaning. They see a globe and they know it means something like country and/or language. And given that some websites are organized by country/region and others (like LinkedIn) by language, the globe icon casts a wide symbolic net.
The globe is simply the best available language icon.
I’ve yet to come across any more effective icon. Believe me, people have tried.
One drawback of the globe icon is how overused it is by a number of websites and software.
I’m talking about you, Facebook.
Facebook curiously uses the globe icon for notifications:
I proposed two visual alternatives to the globe icon awhile back. But Facebook appears perfectly content with the globe icon as it is.
And just to be clear that Facebook isn’t re-using the globe icon for language or locale settings I dug into the account settings menu. There is no icon used:
Getting back to LinkedIn, I would change the “Change” text to the name of the currently selected language.
But I’m glad to see LinkedIn embrace the globe icon for this purpose.
Warts and all, the globe icon is the best icon we have for communicating “select language.”