I am designing a backend roster system. The administrator scans the users barcode and then records the time they checked in.

My question is which group of people should look disabled?

My thinking is that for a roster you might want to know more prominently who isn't here so they should be the ones highlighted. So when someone checks-in you don't have to worry about them anymore.

On the other hand you might think that one people are checked-in they are active.

What are your thoughts?

BTW: The color is not the only thing marking the users as checked-in, the timestamp becomes prominently displayed as well.

  • Why should they "look disabled" in the first place? Are they actually disabled or are you just trying to differentiate between two states? – Koen Lageveen May 26 '13 at 11:34
  • @KoenLageveen I guess disabled is the wrong word because there is never any action they can take by clicking on the student, but they are greyed out, and yes to differentiate between the two states. Additionally, once a user has been checked-in they can't be checked in again. – TimothyBJacobs May 26 '13 at 11:36

There are two ways to go:

  1. Pick indicators that don't have a value attached to them. Disabled/enabled clearly has one set valued differently from the other, whereas blue/purple doesn't.

  2. Pick indicators that support the goals of the user of the system. If someone needs to go through all people that aren't checked in, they should stand out (and vice versa). You could use checked/unchecked boxes or a color combination (e.g. disabled (grey) / enabled (colored) )that supports that.

If your interface can be used in a way that users might sometimes be interested in the people that are checked in and other times more interested in those that aren't, that speaks against option 2. If those two workflows are separated you might be able to have one set of people stand out in a way that makes the workflow easier.


As noted, disabled conveys that the item cannot be changed.

From your description it seems that those people who are checked-out are more interesting to the user, thought those that are checked-in still can be involved in operations. This is why you can use the bold format to differentiate between the groups. Bold is almost a convention for items that are new, need attention or call to action. The most prominent example being e-mail boxes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.