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Designing toggle icon

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  • Desilets, Alain
    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
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
    • 1 Attachment
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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)

    OR

    -          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:

     

       http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=11512

     

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

     

    Does any of you know of one?

     

    Thx.

  • Anders Ramsay
    Maybe the issue is using icons. Why not just have Start watching this page and Stop watching this page toggle button? On Oct 30, 2009, at 1:19 PM,
    Message 2 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
    • 0 Attachment
      Maybe the issue is using icons. Why not just have 'Start watching this page' and 'Stop watching this page' toggle button?

      On Oct 30, 2009, at 1:19 PM, "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...> wrote:

       

      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)

      OR

      -          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:

       

         http://www.ixda. org/discuss. php?post= 11512

       

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

       

      Does any of you know of one?

       

      Thx.

    • marjoriepries
      The problem seems to be in depending on the color to convey the meaning while the eye is static. Maybe if you tried a closed eye vs. an open eye and forgot
      Message 3 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        The problem seems to be in depending on the color to convey the meaning while the eye is static. Maybe if you tried a closed eye vs. an open eye and forgot about the colored checkmarks completely, then.

        the idea of a ligthhouse with a signal beam vs. one without also came to my mind.

        Marjorie


        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
        >

        >
        >
        > 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)
        >
        > OR
        >
        > - 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.
        >
        >
        > Thx.
        >
      • Desilets, Alain
        This button is one of many on a toolbar, and I don t have sufficient real-estate to put long labels like this. ________________________________ From:
        Message 4 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
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          This button is one of many on a toolbar, and I don’t have sufficient real-estate to put long labels like this.

           


          From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Anders Ramsay
          Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 1:37 PM
          To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Designing toggle icon

           




          Maybe the issue is using icons. Why not just have 'Start watching this page' and 'Stop watching this page' toggle button?


          On Oct 30, 2009, at 1:19 PM, "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...> wrote:

           

          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)

          OR

          -          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:

           

             http://www.ixda. org/discuss. php?post= 11512

           

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

           

          Does any of you know of one?

           

          Thx.


        • Desilets, Alain
          The idea of a closed eye has been suggested by a number of my test subjects. I haven t had a chance to test it yet, but my guess is that it will suffer from
          Message 5 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            The idea of a closed eye has been suggested by a number of my test
            subjects. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, but my guess is that it
            will suffer from the same issue.

            Does a closed eye mean
            - Watches are currently OFF (and therefore, click here to turn them ON)
            OR
            - Click here to turn OFF the watches (and therefore, they are currently
            ON)

            But it's worth a try.

            -----Original Message-----
            From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of marjoriepries
            Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 1:44 PM
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Designing toggle icon


            The problem seems to be in depending on the color to convey the meaning
            while the eye is static. Maybe if you tried a closed eye vs. an open eye
            and forgot about the colored checkmarks completely, then.

            the idea of a ligthhouse with a signal beam vs. one without also came to
            my mind.

            Marjorie


            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain"
            <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
            >

            >
            >
            > 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)
            >
            > OR
            >
            > - 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.
            >
            >
            > Thx.
            >




            ------------------------------------

            Yahoo! Groups Links
          • Desilets, Alain
            ... solution. It depends. But my own research shows ... command to be executed (rather than the current ... change are problematic in any case. (Although, I
            Message 6 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
            • 0 Attachment
              > 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.
            • Larry Constantine
              Alain, 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
              Message 7 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
              • 0 Attachment

                Alain,

                 

                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.)

                 

                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

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

                (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.

                 

                --Larry Constantine

                 


                From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Desilets, Alain
                Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 12:20 PM
                To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: [agile-usability] Designing toggle icon [1 Attachment]

                 

                 

                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)

                OR

                -          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:

                 

                   http://www.ixda. org/discuss. php?post= 11512

                 

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

                 

                Does any of you know of one?

                 

                Thx.

              • scott preece
                Or, use an icon to show state and just use a popup dialog to indicate what happened as a result of clicking it (e.g., Now watching page ). For a
                Message 8 of 10 , Oct 30, 2009
                • 0 Attachment
                  Or, use an icon to show state and just use a popup dialog to indicate what happened as a result of clicking it (e.g., "Now watching page"). For a non-destructive operation like this, that should be OK. I would prefer a timed dialog or one that would go away as soon as you move your mouse away from the button, rather than requiring an extra click.

                  Alternatively, you could use a mouseover popup to indicate what the action associated with the button is.

                  scott

                  --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine" <lconstantine@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > 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.
                  >
                • Larry Constantine
                  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
                  Message 9 of 10 , 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.

                • Tim Wright
                  Perhaps the problem is that you re trying to use one widget to convey two pieces of information - state and action. Something like this might be better: You
                  Message 10 of 10 , Nov 4, 2009
                  • 0 Attachment
                     
                    Perhaps the problem is that you're trying to use one widget to convey two pieces of information - state and action. Something like this might be better:
                    You are watching this page. Stop watching.
                    Tim 
                     
                    On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:48 AM, scott preece <sepreece@...> wrote:
                     

                    Or, use an icon to show state and just use a popup dialog to indicate what happened as a result of clicking it (e.g., "Now watching page"). For a non-destructive operation like this, that should be OK. I would prefer a timed dialog or one that would go away as soon as you move your mouse away from the button, rather than requiring an extra click.

                    Alternatively, you could use a mouseover popup to indicate what the action associated with the button is.

                    scott

                    --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine" <lconstantine@...> wrote:


                    >
                    > 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> 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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