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6530RE: [agile-usability] Designing toggle icon

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  • Larry Constantine
    Oct 30, 2009
    • 1 Attachment
    • 3 KB

    Alain said:

     

    One idea I had was the following...

    Use the icon to convey state, since people seem to agree more on what
    state an icon refers to than on what action will result from pushing it.
    For example, eye with green check for "on" and an eye with a red X for
    "off".

    To convey action, use a popup menu. When the user clicks on the icon, he
    would see a popup menu with the following two items:

    - On
    - Off

    And there would be a checkmark in front of the one that corresponds to
    the current state.

    A bit complex, but might work.

     

     

    Yes, complex. Okay, if you must have it as a tool and have limited real estate, I would go with the toggle button, suggestion (a), or another weirder but still effective hybrid that I have used on occasion: the check button.

     

    In attached image are concept mockups of the 2 designs, the straight toggle button and the check button shown in off (left) and on (right) states. The latter is the least ambiguous, but both rely on instructive interaction, that is, the user knows how they work after using (clicking) once.

     

    Good luck!

     

    --Larry Constantine

     

     


    From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Desilets, Alain
    Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 1:05 PM
    To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Designing toggle icon

     

     

    > Indeed, this is a generic problem for which there is no single best
    solution. It depends. But my own research shows

    > that people who interpret the label on a toggle button to mean the
    command to be executed (rather than the current
    > state) are in the majority. However, labels on function buttons that
    change are problematic in any case. (Although, I
    > have used them on rare and carefully reasoned occasion.)

    Thx for answering Larry. Nice to get advice from a guru ;-).

    The wiki engine in question (TikiWiki) currently uses that approach
    (icon on the button suggests the action that will happen when you click
    on it). But we are seeing that a good 50% of users are confused by it
    and interpret it in terms of state.

    When I tested the 8 icons in my previous email with 12 subjects or so, I
    asked half of them what the icon suggested in terms of state, and asked
    the other half what it suggested in terms of the action that would
    happen.

    I found that when people described their understanding of the state,
    they were unanimous. But those who were asked to describe what action
    would happen tended to split 50-50 between turn off and turn on.

    This may be tied to the specific icons I tested, but it might be a hint
    that it's easier to clearly convey a state than an action.

    This seems to argue for using the icon to convey state, not action...
    dunno.

    > Here are the options that my work suggests work best, on average (your
    mileage may vary):
    >
    > (a) have a button with an unchanging label (the on-state) that appears
    depressed (or on) when selected

    So, an eye button that appears depressed or not. Sounds like a good
    idea.

    Can you provide an example of what such a button looks like?

    > (b) have two buttons (watches on, watches off) linked visually and in
    behavior

    Hum... don't like that. The reason we are going with icons is that we
    have a real estate crunch.

    > (c) use a check box (e.g., [ ] Watches on)
    > On a Wiki, I would favor the latter as more in keeping with the
    Web-based interface; and it's simpler.

    Unfortunately, that button is part of a toolbar that's all made up of
    icons, so I want to keep it that way for consistency.

    One idea I had was the following...

    Use the icon to convey state, since people seem to agree more on what
    state an icon refers to than on what action will result from pushing it.
    For example, eye with green check for "on" and an eye with a red X for
    "off".

    To convey action, use a popup menu. When the user clicks on the icon, he
    would see a popup menu with the following two items:

    - On
    - Off

    And there would be a checkmark in front of the one that corresponds to
    the current state.

    A bit complex, but might work. I like the depressed button idea too.

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