[openbeos-cdt] Re: Close window button

  • From: Eddy Groen <eddyspeeder@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos-cdt@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 19:14:42 +0100

2009/11/10 Humdinger <humdingerb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

> I think, the notion of the window close button being mistaken for a
> checkbox has been debunked already. The issue is a uniform
> representation of a closing button, independently from where it's used.

I was thinking:
- If I turn my TV on/off, do I press an X? No, I press an empty square,
embedded in the context of being below the display.
- If I turn my desktop computer on/off, do I press an X? No, I press an
empty circle embedded in the context of being below the "on" light. The same
thing goes for the monitor: a big empty rectangle next to the "on" light.
- If I check my battery status on my MacBook Pro, does the button have
anything engraved? No, it's an empty circle, embedded in a context of eight
little light points.

So I do not think very highly of the argument that because it has by now
become a computer convention that an X is used to close the window, it has
to apply at all times. Equally so does not every electronics manufacturer
put one of those circles with a stripe in it on an on/off button, provided
the context is clear enough for the user to understand it's an on/off button
(I've also seen computers where they did not make it very clear what the
on/off button is, and in that case I concur that it is bad design).

Just as I used the "battery check" button on my MacBook Pro as an example,
I'd like to take the on/off button. It *does* have a circle with a line
crossing it, indicating it's an on/off button. Is that necessary? In this
case, yes, because it's too subtle and too hard to notice if it weren't for
the icon. In that case, the icon *is* necessary.

Will a user understand that a window needs to be closed by pushing a square
in one of its top corners? As -Meanwhile- said: if you think they don't get
it, you are underestimating the user.

Then comes the argument: "but that does not mean it is not bad design".
About a week ago, I've dedicated an entire email to the general mailing list
about "bad design" and about how careful one must be using that term. Just
because Haiku differs in its approach by using a square to close a window is
not by any means an argument *for* bad design. Equally so, it is not an
argument *against* bad design.

That being said, what part about the square can be considered bad design? My
personal interpretation: none. Obviously, at Be, the engineers have used the
"on/off button metaphor" as a way of closing a window. I find that quite
logical. And so will any user.

Lastly, the checkbox argument. Again, we are talking about *context* here.
And again, you are underestimating a user when he cannot distinguish a
checkbox in a window panel from a checkbox with a different purpose in an
entirely different interface section. The user will not mistake it for a
checkbox. At best, the user will consider it a checkbox to answer the
question "Do you wish to close this window?" with a whole-hearted YES.


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