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I'm designing an in-app chat feature where users get can live support from chat agents.

What are the most commonly understood signs/icons for chat receipts like

  1. sending
  2. sent
  3. not sent
  4. delivered
  5. not delivered
  6. read

I see WhatsApp uses ticks and double ticks changing the colour when read, while facebook messenger users something slightly different. What would be more common practices to follow when designing for this without overcomplicating things, and are all these receipts even needed?

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As you pointed out there are different icons used in different apps. This makes is difficult to pinpoint a universally understood standard. I remember Jakob Nielsen saying "Users spent most of their time on other websites". With this in mind, here is what I would do:

  1. Identify the target user group for the app you are designing for and
  2. Understand which messenger/chat tool they are most likely accustomed to, then
  3. Design icons very similar to the ones of the most popular messenger for the target group

Example:

By number of users, WhatsApp appears to be the most used messenger globally [data]. But if your target group would be primarily based in China, then they most likely use WeChat a lot. In this case you could use WeChat to inspire your icon designs. Those designs could be tested with real users to check if they understand the interactions, supported by the icons.

You could also consider text only as an alternative to icons, or icons in conjunction with a text label.

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