On higher level nodes of our site we have a utility nav with only 3 links: "sign in", "register", and "browse". The text labels for these actions are too long to keep fully visible at screen sizes 480px and under so we'll be using media queries to render them as icons. Normally we would simply collapse into the 3-bar menu toggle BUT some of these screens will also have a local nav with many links that we will be treating in that manner -- so we don't want to render two 3-bar menu icons. Instead, we'd like to do something like show a user profile icon for the sign-in/register link and something for "browse" (whose label at above 480px is "Browse by Discipline").

Maybe we need to rethink this approach but we were hoping to somehow represent "browse" but have come up with nothing satisfactory. A magnifying glass reads too strongly as "search" and the old binoculars seems awfully lame.

Any ideas or examples in the wild? All suggestions appreciated!

  • 1
    ... can you roll your own frankenicon, maybe finger pointer over a book?
    – vector
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:57
  • @Bob as it stands this question isn't really good fit because you're asking us to brainstorm ideas and suggestions. Just do some searches for browse icons or categorize icons and I'm sure you can find some ideas.
    – Ryan
    Jun 23, 2013 at 21:44
  • Vector -- was thinking of something similar, perhaps using a stacked icon font technique. Dominic -- agree with both points. Sorry if I should have posted this elsewhere. Ryan -- sorry. Just discovered this site the other day; apologize if I haven't asked a proper question. Google image search works well for what you've suggested = thanks!
    – Bob
    Jun 24, 2013 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


It's rare to see icons for "Browse" these days. Think about what those buttons' roles normally would be:

  • Sign in: [button for existing users who've been logged out or on a new machine]
  • Register: [button for super-keen new users convinced they want an account]
  • Browse: [everything else a user might have come to the site for].

So it normally doesn't make sense to think in terms of representing the abstract concept of browsing. 'Browsing opportunities' isn't the unique attraction your user has come to your site for!

Instead, think in terms of what role that button plays:

  • If it's essentially 'Start here' or 'Continue to main site', something like a bold, simple emphasised arrow pointing right might be clearer. Or maybe even a 'Home' icon.
  • If it's 'This is where to get a list of disciplines', think icons for lists, or icons for 'Disciplines'.
  • If it's some other specific type of thing, think about what would catch the eye of someone looking for that specific type of thing.

(and I'd suggest only going with books, binoculars, compasses etc if you're selling books, binoculars or compasses to people who are looking for books, binoculars or compasses...)

  • user568458 -- thank you for your incredibly thoughtful reply. I agree with you -- the concept is nearly too abstract to illustrate in any meaningfully way. I was leaning toward either the magnifying glass or a folder (directory) icon -- but not sure either of those fit. Like the idea of "list" but I'm hesitant b/c it may be too similar to the "stacked triple bar" symbol that is becoming standard practice for a collapsed or off-canvas menu -- and we will likely have one of those on screens that are deeper in the site hierarchy. I really appreciate the time you put into your answer!
    – Bob
    Jun 24, 2013 at 13:17

I suggest Font Awesome icons: http://fortawesome.github.io/Font-Awesome/icons/

  • Could you be a little more specific? This is just a generic set of icons, Bob is looking for something to represent "browse"
    – JohnB
    Jun 25, 2013 at 11:37
  • Oh sure. I'd used "icon-globe", "icon-folder-open" or even "icon-compass". Jun 25, 2013 at 12:01

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