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For success messages, I usually use green, for warnings yellow and for errors red. Now in the trash folder users can delete messages permanently and restore messages.

I got confused which color would actually be the right one to choose to let a user know they have deleted a message permanently. If restoring also uses green, wouldn't that be a little bit confusing?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There could be another neutral color — black or gray — for notification messages, neither sucessful nor warning with the goal only to say something without any expression.

In your case it can be useful, because sucessful meaning of green is formally correct, but really can be confusing of "red nature" of deletion. So such neutral colors can also be used for messages that are controversial in emotional state.

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From what I gather, the confirmation is regarding an irriversable action that has already taken place. Applying red would indicate a poor decision was made on the part of the user (based on societal connotations : red in China is joyous), or that an error occurred in the process and requires further interaction/intervention on the user's part.

If it needs to be overly apparent the action was a success, I would choose green. If not absolutely vital (as is mostly the case for idle usage), I would use whatever color in the brand palette is most neutral. If that color makes it difficult or looks jarring or too muted, then go with a greyscale color.

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thanks, Eric! interesting, did not know that about China... very weird, as red is widely and commonly being used for error messages, or am I wrong? –  Chris Aug 19 '12 at 21:44
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I think the color alone won't be enough in these cases, but anyway, you should use a color which best describes the situation.

So:

  • If user wants to remove a message for good, you should show a warning with yellow color.
  • If user has already done that, if you really need to show the user that it was removed forever, you should show an information box, with some color like blue. This would be just a notification.

But I believe you should also highlight some words like "permanently" in your dialog box.

This is an example for asking confirmation (I have dropped the buttons to just show my points):

ask for confirmation

and this would be when you think you should also show the user that this task was done:

information box

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I think it should be better in a yellow one, it's some kind of notification with a little care, requires some of user attention.

Anyway, would you not display a dialog (yellow warning) require user to confirm delete or not?

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yes, I would show a modal dialog box which requires the user to confirm, you are right. This would then be the notification that the messages have been deleted (in case some error might occur, e.g. connection timeout, they would receive a "your messages could not be deleted...") –  Chris Aug 19 '12 at 17:03
    
if error while deleting, I prefer the red; if succeed, I prefer green, any case that requires user attention, of course, yellow warning. This is what I experience from many Windows applications. –  xjaphx Aug 19 '12 at 17:05
    
oh OK, I see... that is probably the point, if you want to get user attention, then yellow or red... so you say the user already had to confirm that the messages would be deleted, so green is fine... thank you for that insight! :) –  Chris Aug 19 '12 at 17:12
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