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At my workplace, I have a monitor of reputed company with touch buttons with back-light which aren't visible unless the monitor is switched on. This includes the power button.

Occasionally, I spend more than half a minute trying to find the power button button to switch on the monitor by feeling around the right hand bottom corner.

My colleagues have 3 other models of monitors of the same company, but only one of them has buttons which are visible even when the monitor is switched off.

Is this just bad design or is it useful in some way?

More generally, can it be said that touch buttons should always have a static physical (non-electrical) symbol around them which makes them visible even when the device is switched off?

  • Are the “touch” buttons interface buttons displayed by the screen? Or are they capacitive buttons with a backlight? – Nicolas Hung Jan 6 '18 at 22:02
  • Are the touch buttons only working when you turn on the screen? Or do they work with the screen off? – Nicolas Hung Jan 6 '18 at 22:04
  • @NicolasHung They are capacitive buttons with a backlight. They work with the screen off. In fact, one of the buttons is the one that switches on the screen. – Ritesh Singh Jan 6 '18 at 23:03
  • I use white-out tape on equipment to show the locations of things I use a lot: power buttons, headphone jack hole, the right side of the USB stick or cable to face upwards, the USB slot... All that black-on-black-in-black-with-black-accenting is just stupid. – user67695 Apr 10 '18 at 18:32
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The fact that you have to spend 1/2 a minute to find the button seems to indicate some sort of usability issue.

The power button could have a different texture for you to feel without guessing.

Perhaps the screens were designed to be used in a dark environment, with the lights off, so the button lights don’t distract from the screen.

Either way, needing to pay particular attention to or perform an action to see what each button does is a problem.

No matter how well known the company of the monitors are, usability is often ignored.

  • I mean, appearance is just so much more important anyway. – user67695 Apr 10 '18 at 18:33
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I think there are a number of different factors to consider, some of which have already been covered in the comments.

  • Physical vs. on-screen buttons will have different technical constraints around the implementation of the design
  • New vs. existing users will have impact on the familiarity of the design
  • Old vs. new screens will influence what is the 'common' way of using the buttons

Finally, the purpose or reason for designing the buttons (even if there is no clear rationale) will determine whether it is a suitable solution given the requirements (even if it is to save some extra power?).

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