I develop a shopping list app, which supports multiple lists, but only one list can be viewed at once.

The "Lists" button (top-left) is used to open a screen showing all lists and, from here, a new list can be selected.

A list with two items

Lists can be shared with other users.

When someone makes a change to the active list, it is updated immediately. But if a user changes one of the non-active lists, there is no indication that a change occurred.

I was considering using a circular bullet character to signify that changes were available, like this:

Proposed indication of changes

My thinking was it would be similar to the blue circle to the left of unread mail.

Does this approach make sense or is there a more idiomatic way of indicating a change using the iOS button?

Update Monday, 8 May 2023 Many thanks for all the suggestions.

In the end, I went with a small dot indicator next to the "Lists" button:

small dot next to lists button

This is intended to be reminiscent of notifications used in other apps.

In Twitter, a dot is placed next to the Home icon when new posts have arrived:

Twitter Home button with notification

App Icons often change to include a badge when notifications are present:

App badge with notofications

StackOverflow does this too:

Pending notifications on StackOverflow

After downloading a file from mobile Safari, the Downloads icon changes to include a small dot:

iOS Safari downloads icon with dot to indicate downloaded content

And when an iOS app is installed from TestFlight, a small dot is placed before the app name:

Dot added before app name

  • 2
    I believe your approach is adequate, but I agree with Danielillo's suggestion of incorporating an icon and providing additional information, as this would likely be more beneficial for the user.
    – Devin
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Dropbox uses icons to show the sync status of its files:

enter image description here

  • Available file:


  • Sync in progress

Sync in progress

You can use something similar with an icon for the list available without changes and a list with changes to update.

  • Thanks for the ideas. I think this would work well if the user could see the lists but in this case the lists themselves are on a different screen, accessible via the “Lists” button. The challenge is how to indicate that any list has a change using the “Lists” button alone
    – Wheelie
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:39
  • 1
    You don't need to show all the lists with their respective icons, but just an icon on the left of the menú label to show something is happening (or not). The Dropbox files image on the answer is just to see the icons in context. I think an icon is so much more intuitive than a purple circle 😉
    – Danielillo
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:44
  • Thanks for explaining. An icon could work. The challenge is now to find an icon that represents “changes have occurred” 🙂
    – Wheelie
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:55
  • 1
    🔄 "Changes in progress" – ✅ "Changes have occurred"
    – Danielillo
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 19:59
  • 2
    @Wheelie An exclamation mark should be enough. You don't need to transmit "a change has been made", but to call user's attention to the element
    – Devin
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 20:00

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