Abbreviation, button icons vs full labeling, user education
Devin Rhode stashed this in UX
so, in thinking deeply about taking up a new chunk of screen real estate on my scout extension (TheScoutApp.com), I got perhaps a brilliant idea: use short, symbolic icons or single words for buttons, but initially let them be augmented with clear, full labels. So initially this bar of buttons would be nearly double it's size, but you'd be able to read exactly what each thing does. After you use them for awhile, and you use each button, say twice, the full label disappears, and only appears onhover.
It's just like abbreviations like lol, after we use it a lot, we abbreviate it. Zuck dog also explained at some point to make things people are doing easier. People were updating their profile pic all the time to share photos. So they made photos. Initially profiles were a wiki, but they were being updated all the time, so they made the wall and posts.
Abbreviate things that get used a lot.
I like the idea in theory.
In practice I'm not sure what the cost of keeping track of every button push would be.