How can I design a domain-specific “actions” icon?

We are writing an application for road construction management. Think of the guys that plan the lane expansion or road resurfacing that ruins your day. 🙂

All throughout the application, we have the concept of general actions that can be performed on the current data, like running reports, adding new data, editing data, etc. These actions are all contained within a dropdown menu that used to be represented by the word “Actions”.

Now, however, we need to reduce it to an icon to save space and anxiety over seeing the word “Actions” repeated for each different piece of data on a particular page.

Therein lies the question, how does one design an “Actions” icon that needs to be domain-specific? By that I mean it cannot be a movie clapperboard or something else that might evoke the word “action.”

We have currently settled on making an icon that doesn’t mean anything, for instance a circle with three dots in it or something equally meaningless in this context. But that just guarantees that the customer will need to be trained on actions.


On the Mac, the action button is described by a gear icon….that might work well, as it is fairly generic and therefore covers a lot of possible actions.

Source : Link , Question Author : Andy , Answer Author : Kevin Z

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