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We are considering incorporating national flags into a currency selector, alongside ISO currency codes, like this:

radio button selections of currencies with flags inline

We are well aware we should not use flags for selecting languages because there isn't a one to one mapping (and other sensitivities) but we're not aware of the same problems occurring with regard to currencies.

Is this a naïve question – are there any trips or traps we should be aware of?

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As long as you use the currency code in addition to the flag it seems fine to me. –  Ben Brocka Dec 14 '11 at 16:56
    
@erics What is your goal? Would it be acceptable to just have the users select country and then give them the currency for that country? –  tajmo Dec 14 '11 at 22:23
    
Goal is to visually expand or explain what the ISO currency code means (they are also coded with <abbr title="Swiss Francs">CHF</abbr>) –  Erics Dec 14 '11 at 23:37

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You should be fine using flags. If you look at the list of currencies, the names are usually made up of a country name and currency (Singapore dollar, Russian ruble, Swiss franc).

Some places use currency that does not originate form a country. For example, most Caribbean countries use the East Caribbean dollar. The Euro is another example. Using the union flag in those cases will not offend any of the members.

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I've been using xe.com (and watching it develop v. slowly) for maybe a decade or so and they use the same flag/TLA currency association except that they too use the long description (TLA + description) during the currency selection process, and flag+TLA in any tabular display, so I'd agree with this - use the longer description where space permits. –  Roger Attrill Dec 13 '11 at 10:57

Of course not every country in European Union uses Euro as a currency. I guess though it shouldn't be a problem, as people don't identify themselves with EU flag.

Qualitative test would resolve your problem.

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+1 for the test part –  katDNA Dec 12 '11 at 8:45

Personally I would actually go with the Flag, the actual words for the currency and the 3 letter acronym as they actually get confusing too. Helps with understanding of the place to the currency.

You might want to create a way to link to information that list countries which also take that currency e.g the Euro

Also add help for people to understand if its a closed currency (only available to buy in the country), if you need to.

  • USD : United States Dollar
  • EUR : European Euro
  • CHF : Swiss Franc
  • GBP : Great British Pound
  • AUD : Australian Dollar
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In some of the places we want to do this we are constrained by available space. We do use the <abbr> markup to add a tooltip. –  Erics Dec 14 '11 at 23:42

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