Today, when sharing an update on LinkedIn, I have noticed that touching own avatar in the upate edit window on iPad makes it (avatar) "bouncy" zoom in and out (let me know if there is a better word for that). At first, my thinking was that this is just an obsolete feature but after a while I started thinking that maybe this is a way to communicate no action on tap (namely that tapping the avatar does not go to the profile in this case).

I wonder what some ways to communicate lack of action can be (beside graying a button out), especially while an element is hard to modify (In this case: you would not gray out an avatar and as such it is not possible to mask the tap affordance even though it would make no sense at this very moment of writing the update, and besides of that it could lead to errors made by Users.).

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I like the idea of the 'bouncy zoom' and I would take it one step farther and make it do a shaking motion as if the avatar was shaking 'no' when you tap it. I like the fact it does more than nothing because the user can tell its "not broken". That is one of the most important things to me after working SQA for 5 years.

The user must always know what is going on, is one of my main tenets.

You could deliver some haptic feedback, which Apple is known to excel with. Haptic is when it vibrates and gives a touch sensation. I don't even know if that's possible in web, but you could in a native app. Apple's Human Interface Guidelines say that this is a special alert and not to abuse it. If you establish its use for a specific purpose, it should only be used for that. I think they also say it should only be for very important things such as destructive actions, etc.

Another idea I like is to experiment with some kind of non-invasive display for a second or so, like a toast message, but I think in this case, you could try something like a 20x20 pixel "do not enter" symbol loading at a place where the user expects small icons like that. I would also use such a display that appears every time a button is pressed while an action is in progress (like a double submit while the API is working, etc).

This is definitely something I would mockup in HTML and experiment and pass a device around and gather opinions while I look for a general consensus.

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    Thanks, this is a very good answer! A lot of ideas here. As far as the haptic feedback is concerned, one downside of it is that you lose coherence across the devices landscape. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 6:30

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