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Should a toggle button show its current state or the state to which it will change?

I know there was similar question to mine already, but I have something new to ask. I have a button which toggles between view and edit mode. The title on a button outlines the action user will perform once he click on it:

enter image description here

The problem is what to do with icons. What icon should represent - current state or an action user will perform once he click on it again? I don't want to have inconsistency neither with button title, neither with content mode.

  • I think your icons are mixed around currently they way they stand. If the icon isn't part of the button, then maybe they are ok, showing current state. But as you have them, I would be confused.
    – CaffGeek
    Jul 23, 2012 at 19:06
  • 1
    I don't see how this is a different question to the one you have linked to?
    – JonW
    Jul 23, 2012 at 19:23
  • The difference is what icons should represent - state or action? Jul 23, 2012 at 19:31
  • I think you're answering your own question when you ask "state or action". Should probably include both; however, in very different ways :]
    – Vin Burgh
    Jul 23, 2012 at 19:39
  • This question too: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/20713/… Jul 23, 2012 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


In The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin, he argues that the best way to ensure that the user knows both what state they are in and what they can do is to avoid modes (e.g. locked mode, unlocked mode). This means instead of toggling between locked and unlocked buttons, show buttons for both--one that is on and that one is off. Although you lose in space savings of one button, you gain by removing action ambiguity for the user.

  • I wonder what showing both buttons solves. Here I have absolutely no clue.
    – maaartinus
    May 18, 2014 at 4:23

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