We have a status page that shows users a set of predicate properties about devices in a system. It's a simple table with a bunch of ticks used to indicate the true state.

enter image description here

Of course, over the years new requirements have been packed into the table, and now we have something like -

Green tick = yes

Grey tick = not available

No tick = Not relevant

Text in green = working OK.

etc.etc. Hopefully 'nuff said.

Possible states we're trying to convey change according to the column. In this example we'd have

  • Connected - yes | no
  • Healthy - yes | no | n/a (e.g. if not connected)
  • Sensors - present and working | present and not working | not present

Can someone point me at, or share their thoughts on best practice in this area?

  • As you mention both green and grey ticks I have to chip in here and say that your scheme should be understandable without colour - colourblind users may not be able to differentiate between the grey and green shades so it's advisable to use a different symbol rather than the same symbol in a different colour Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:47
  • For "Text in green" you mean the name of the device? How is the relation between this and the ticks? For example if there are no grey ticks then it is working ok? Not available means No/Off? Could explain what does the not relevant mean?
    – Alvaro
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:48
  • @AndrewMartin - totally. Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:52
  • @Alvaro - I was really trying to make the point that this has become a meaningless mess by incremental changes over time. Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


Best practice includes

  • Don't use color as the only information carrier (some people don't distinguish colors very well)

  • Don't use forms that are ambiguous (no check might mean "not observed" rather than "not relevant")

  • Do use tokens that have fairly well-defined meanings (e.g. NA for not relevant)

If you'd like to lay out the list of states, we could probably advise on how to update the display to be more meaningful.

  • @Andy Sithers What does "connected" mean? To other devices, to the sensors, or to some other thing not represented in the chart? And in what way might something be connected but not healthy? (I'm trying to determine whether they're really mapping the same state). Is this output to a machine with a bitmapped screen (e.g. Windows, Mac, X), or something else?
    – MMacD
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 20:25

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