I have some questions regarding the buttons placed in a navigation bar that I don't know if actually meet the iOS Human Interface Guidelines:

1) I'll need a button at the right side of the nav bar that triggers an action I want the user to be able to request at any moment throughout the app. This action will go through a set of different statuses. I'd like to show the current status of the action by means of a color. Is it possible to dynamically change the background color of a button in the nav bar? Does having a button with a background color different from the background color of the nav bar break any of Apple's guidelines?

2) Is it possible to have a button with both an icon and text in the nav bar? If it is, again: does it break Apple's human interface rules?

I couldn't find any existing example of these points. Any example of an existing app adopting buttons like I described will be appreciated.

3 Answers 3

  1. Yes, it's possible to do that and you won't break any of the Apple guidelines. There are a lot of applications that use a different looking button for their main action in the navigation bar. (for example photography apps & others and application that have for example 4 actions for stats and 1 for ordering)

  2. You can use icon, text or icon with text (if the icon is not enough to express the action you can always use text to support it). And again, it doesn't break any of the guidelines.

And you must realize that guidelines are just guidelines not strict rules to obey, the guidelines are there to help you achieve a "usable app" by Apple standards.


I don't understand your long question 1.

For question 2, Is it possible to have a button with both an icon and text in the nav bar? If it is, again: does it break Apple's human interface rules?

The usage of icon is to remove the usage of text preventing cluttering on the screen. You might want to look into designing or use the more appropriate icon. It will be a win win situation. Less cluttering on screen, and clear and self explanatory icon.

  • Ok, thanks. First question was about matching the background color of a navigation button and the background color of its nav bar. If nav bar is black, does its buttons have to be black, or could I have a green button?
    – AppsDev
    Jul 17, 2013 at 10:33
  • Guidelines are mend to help app developer to kick start. I do not think you will need to follow strictly to the guideline. I might be wrong, but that's my opinion. ^_^ Good luck buddy
    – SimonTeo
    Jul 18, 2013 at 9:07
  1. Yes, you have various options to style the navigation bar. How it happens dynamically I do not know, and you can look at more technical places to ask. Concerning breaking the guidelines, if this action is related to navigation, i.e., manages the contents of the screen then you don't break them. If it's another action related to the app but doesn't relate to the screen contents, you may break user expectations.

  2. You can, and again it depends, you might be breaking the guidelines or not depending on how you do it. Make sure to find a good strong icon as @user2582024 suggests that doesn't break user expectations (as @ciprian-plici suggests).

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