brainstorm for toolbar button

Subject: brainstorm for toolbar button
From: Susan Fowler <sfowler -at- EJV -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 09:07:05 EST

I am bemused by this topic, of coming up with a graphic for a "default" button.
First of all, writing was invented to get around these problems--pictograms
don't work for many abstract ideas.

Secondly, all of the programming style guides (The GUI Style Guide included)
require, nay insist, on a separate text label for all icons and picture
buttons, either below the icon or button or in the standard 'help' area (hernia
help for Macs, status bar fly-by for MS and X windows). BTW, don't put text _in
a picture_ used for a button or icon because you will then have to take each
picture apart to translate it.

The original description of the problem made me wonder if the solution lies in a
bit of usability testing with customers. You can do some quick paper and pencil
tests with customers (or even other people in the office) to see whether they
need a 'default' button at all. Why not just show the defaults, period, and let
users overwrite the ones they don't want, for example?

For more information on developing icons, see Bill Horton's _The Icon Book_,
John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1994, and _The GUI Style Guide_, Fowler and
Stanwick, Academic Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995 (ISBN 0-12-263590-6).

Good luck, and I'm curious to hear about the results--
Susan Fowler
fastwrit -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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