Some common computer icons are taken from the broader field of standardized icons used across a wide range of electrical equipment. Examples of these are the power symbol and the USB icon, which are found on a wide variety of electronic devices. The standardization of electronic icons is an important safety-feature on all types of electronics, enabling a user to more easily navigate an unfamiliar system.
As a subset of electronic devices, computer systems and mobile devices use many of the same icons; they are incorporated into the design of both the computer hardware and on the software. On the hardware, these icons identify the functionality of specific buttons and plugs. In the software, they provide a link into the customizable settings. System warning icons also belong to the broader area of ISO standard warning signs.
These warning icons, first designed to regulate automobile traffic in the early 1900s, have become standardized and widely understood by users without necessity of further verbal explanations. In designing software operating systems, different companies have incorporated and defined these standard symbols as part of their graphical user interface. For example, the Microsoft MSDN defines the standard icon use of error, warning, information and question mark icons as part of their software development guidelines. 4] Different organizations are actively involved in standardizing these icons, as well as providing guidelines for their creation and use. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has defined "Graphical symbols for use on equipment", published as IEC 417, a document which displays IEC standardized icons. Another organization invested in the promotion of effective icon usage is the ICT (information and communications technologies), which has published guidelines for the creation and use of icons.