I recently posted a question on UI.SE and I initially used some textual representations of common UI elements such as radio buttons and check boxes. Later on I found that there were Unicode characters for representing such elements. So I switched the textual representations from ( ) to ○ and (o) to ◉. Similarly, my check box representation went from [ ] to ☐ and [x] to ☒. It seemed that all answers got the idea of what I was suggesting by using the words "radio button" and "check box" along with my textual representations. I wonder then, if either is correct, or if an image should be used instead to ensure proper display? For example, if a user were on a device that did not have a Unicode font – for whatever reason – these characters would not display.

share
    
curious to know what the codepoints are for those unicode glyphs. –  Erics Oct 19 '11 at 2:27
1  
The codepoints for those unicode glyphs can be found at unicodelookup.com They are white circle U+9675, fisheye U+9673, ballot box U+9744, ballot box with x U+9746. –  Erics Oct 19 '11 at 2:48
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I wonder then, if either is correct, or if an image should be used instead to ensure proper display?

By all means, use images, or use unicode UI glyphs if it helps communicate your point in a question or answer.

if a user were on a device that did not have a Unicode font – for whatever reason – these characters would not display

I think this should be rare enough that it is not a practical concern.

share
    
Quick idea: Balsamiq seems the preferred tool used, and they have a "browser embedded" version. Could that be wired up for people holding a Balsamiq licence? –  peterchen Feb 25 '11 at 14:25
add comment

Except for people still using Windows XP and who do not have admin rights on their box (read corporate wienies). For example, using Firefox I could read the alternates for the radio button, but the alternates for the check box are squares with numbers in them. In IE 7, I can read the alternate for the open radio button but the closed radio button and the checkboxes all look like empty squares.

share
add comment

There is one reason you may want to stick with the simple text versions of the symbols. The fact that questions and answers are likely to keep pouring in with the simpler notation means that:

  1. We would never be able to standardize on ○, ◉, ☐, ☒.
  2. We could standardize on ( ), (o), [ ], and [x].

Trying to "upgrade" every post to the special characters will be never-ending work (and, at least for this example, for what seems like little increase in clarity, if any, especially since the special characters seem too small). Also, due to the inherent lag time in doing it, readers will always be exposed to both versions, so none of the benefits of standard representation will ever appear.

Reverting all of the special characters to the simpler notation would probably be a one-time effort (or, even if some users unaware of the desire for standard representation did use the special characters, would mean less never-ending effort...which, by the way, could more safely be made automatic (find-replace) while at the same time mostly eliminating lag time).

share
    
Since this question was originally asked UX.StackExchange have licensed Balsamiq Mockups to include inside questions and answers - meta.ux.stackexchange.com/questions/647/… –  JonW Aug 1 '13 at 8:03
    
Important point. That actually strengthens the case against special characters. If someone does not want to use simple text notation (which some people will use regardless of Balsamiq being available), you might as well "upgrade" straight to an editable mock-up rather than using special characters. –  A.M. Aug 1 '13 at 14:12
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .