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6523Designing toggle icon

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  • Desilets, Alain
    Oct 30, 2009
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    I know this is a general UI design issue, but I am asking here because I know many of you folks personally to be a friendly and helpful bunch. But please feel free to tell me to post this somewhere else (and if so, what list you recommend).


    I need to design a clickable icon for use on a wiki system, which will toggle watches on and off. When watches are on, the user receives email notification of every change made to a page. If watches are off, he doesn’t.


    The problem I am having is that no matter what icon I come up with, some people interpret it as  representing the STATE of the watches, and some people interpret it as the ACTION that will be done on the state of the watches when they click on it. Unfortunately, these two interpretations tend to contradict each other. For example, an eye with a green checkmark can be interpreted as:


    -          Traces are ON (and therefore, click here to turn them OFF)


    -          Click here to turn traces ON (and therefore, they are currently OFF)


    Which are exact opposite of each other. I have tested the list of icons in the attached MS Word file with a dozen people or so, and I find this contradiction applies with all of them.


    This seems to be a common problem, for example, see:




    yet, I haven’t been able to find a definitive, well accepted design pattern for that.


    Does any of you know of one?



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