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Feb 18, 2008



If you're one of the 8% of males who are colour blind, the tick and cross could be quite useful. But then the green button is bigger anyway so if it was a better designed interface maybe that would suffice in telling the difference.

The ones that get me are the Help Points on railway and tube stations. The Emergency buttons are BIG and green, the help button is small and blue.



Good, obviously, because of the colour blind.

Rob Mortimer

As they said, for colour blind people. Though why they couldn't just print the tick on the button...


Like this Rob?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jameo/2274415142/, which is conveniently outside the front door here.

That tick is a bit odd though.


Bugger, here sorry:


Rob Mortimer

Yeah, except with a halfway decent look to them!


The buttons should be shaped like ticks/ crosses, in red and green. Perhaps.

Steve O

Redundant as they are. It's like people putting a header in a Word document in bold, 2 points larger and then underlining it.
However, if they made them the same size, same green and red, then a relief of the tick and cross with the relief painted white you've got most people covered I think.


I think it depends entirely on the intended audience – if the buttons are on an object that hundreds of different people will use everyday in a public place then yes, using as many different types of indicators is useful. But if this was on a household appliance you don't need to explain in this much detail as the people using it would be few and the frequency of use high. Design is about both userbility and aesthetics; good designers should know which to prioritise.


It depends on what the object is but if it's electrical wouldn't it be better to have the off button as the bigger one in case of an emergency?


Where do you find the time?


We make time, sir. This is absolutely vital to keeping our working mind healthy. There are two kinds of designers:
1. The ones that are toiling away at a boring job, working as fast as they can to submit mediocre work they're not too happy about because of time constraints. They want to, but don't have any time to look at anything and think about it, much less to comment on it.
2. The other kind is working at a slower pace, allows their mind to wonder, and their opinion on topics like this is appreciated by most. Especially by the 1st kind above. These designers typically create the work they're proud of.

It's not a fair world, but in this ecosystem, the 1st kind can not survive without the 2nd kind.


there is no such thing as a good or bad idea, only ones rendered useless by stupid people.


My question is why have a button on something if you're not meant to push it? Red and green meant stop and go, but tick and cross mean do and don't. The meanings conflict a little for me. What are the buttons for?


Let's face it, even if the extra information is redundant, you're going to still get people who are confused by this. I actually looked to the tick before the buttons to confirm what each one was for.

I've seen buttons like this in Japan that also had "Yes/No" in English, Japanese and French underneath. Three sets of superfluous information, yet I was glad it was all there so I was absolutely sure what I was doing!


Less is more... not always but almost. I guess either it would be fine. If you worried about colour blind then use the tick and cross OR use both on top of the button so tick in green and cross in red if you really want to be that precise and fussy.

Where those buttons are from? What's the usability?


To answer your question: they're a good idea - they're just not executed very well...

I also think that the positioning of the buttons relative to each other makes a difference. Even if you're severely colour blind and for example can't distinguish between traffic light colours, you still have the safeguard of the positioning of the lamps to rely on.

So the discussion seems to be: is oversimplification for aestetic purposes a good idea? I can't agree with that. Personally, I don't like the buttons, but to me, they're out of context. I think having a failsafe second layer of information is a good thing.

I'm red/green colourblind, btw.


I dont think they are redundant at all, they are a good idea.

On the train that I travel on every day there are buttons for the toilet with arrows on one button pointing outwards to indicate 'open' and on the other button arrows pointing inwards to indicate 'close'. A good idea you might think as this should be universally understood by all. Except it doesnt work, almost every single person I see who comes up to use the toilet gets stumped, most people randomly start hitting either to see what happens, and Ive hardly ever seen anyone who just gets it. Occasionally some people grab the alarm handle and yank this!(which is stupidly close to the open and close buttons) On some of the trains there is now little labels stuck alongside which read 'open' and 'close'.

I think my point is that often a symbol or a colour are not enough on their own, without being rude the majority of people out there sadly are just not clued up enough to confidently trust visual communications like this. When you think about it, reading a colour or a symbol requires the user to interpret or decode what they are looking at, whereas reading the word 'Open' or 'Close' requires no brain power whatsoever.

I dont know whether people lack confidence in their ability to make an assumption based on what they are looking at, or whether they simply do not wish to use their brain. Sadly the product design industry still hasnt really woken up to the reality of this so we still regularly see things like remote controls with 50 badly labelled buttons such as 'AV' or 'Preset' which to most people mean absolutely nothing and as a result they avoid the technology.


By the way Ben, what is your answer to the question?


It’s impossible to know without knowing the context.
What are the buttons for.
What will it be used for.
In what situation.
Who will use it.
And what are the budget constraints.

If it’s a situation where some type of danger could be involved and we would go for "everybody" then why not make a relief of the symbols or even of braille on the buttons. If it’s in a culture where red and green symbolises no respectively yes then keep the colours. Size could be redundant information but again that depends on the context.

lewis m w

although it doesn't look like the best designed product.
i think for other cultures who use this and don't have connatations that green is associated with go and red with stop this design will help communicate subtly that they do go together.


the tick and the cross ought to be placed inside the buttons

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