I've come across a challenge. I need to design an icon representing "changes". Well actually two closely related icons, both representing "changes" but distinguishable from each other:

  1. "Change tracking" - the process itself, the ability to view change history.
  2. "See what happened while you were away" - a summarized overview of changes made by others since last logon.

What associations do you guys have that are the closest to these meanings?

  • I've experimented with red blocks, trying to play with association with compare tool behavior. Also tried some ideas where one object morphs into the other. The closest I've come is Microsoft Word's document change icon. But that's way too complex and too document related. I'm dealing with IT-projects and changes to the tasks etc.
    – Slava
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 12:04
  • 1
    Have a look at www.flaticon.com and www.iconfinder.com. Type what you want and get inspiration. Or use one of the given icons
    – user37657
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 12:13
  • Good sources of inspiration JVS, unfortunately I haven't found any icons matching meaning of "changes". Still, got something out of it using a special technique. Found a chair, imagined a horse sitting on a chair, drew a horse. It looks pretty close to what I wanted now.
    – Slava
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 11:53

3 Answers 3


Don't think about the abstract concept of "changes" - base it on what will catch the eye of someone looking for this exact feature.

So think about what, in the context of your application, is most distinctive, unique or visual about this feature from the user's point of view.

It'll depend on the application, but if, for example, the "changes" panel is only place in your application where you see strikethrough text next to new text, you could use:

enter image description here

Or maybe its key characteristic is some particular type of list? Then use a variant of a list icon. etc etc

And test it, even if the best test you can do is finding a few people slightly but not very familiar with the application and asking them "what do you think these buttons do" or "where would you look to see changes?".


Then some variant on that mixed with icons you use to represent time, user profiles, etc (depending on which is most relevant to when you expect the "since you been gone" icon to actually be used)

  • Your answer has been very helpful. These icons are meant for the feature list on a corporate website. So they're supported by text and even description. But aside from representing the abstract meaning of "changes", the graphics may be based on the subjects that are being changed, as you suggested. Additionally I now think that I actually should inform the user what kind of changes we are talking about.
    – Slava
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 11:04

The ability to change something I would translate it to edit, and make an edit icon, with a pencil or something like that, or 2 overlapping arrows like when you want to shuffle a song in your player

What happened when you where away is actually see changes , view mode, and inactive action, so I would use an eye or a loader or something like that.

Now in order to make them related you can use for both of them the same"base icon" and change the icon underneath, like in facebook when you have a new notification you have the world icon as the "base icon" and the number of notification is the changing icon on the right bottom of it


for #1, look at what MS Word uses for their track changes icon for inspiration.

for #2, think of it in terms of "What's New?" rather than "what happened while I was away?"

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