I have just noticed (on vacation with iPad only) that the interface that allows you to import photos from camera to iPad has very similar representation of photos selected for import (checkmark on blue background) and already processed (checkmark on green background).

Two questions, actually:

  • What do you think is the best pattern for graphically telling 'selected' from 'processed'? Dimming? Using a frame around selected photos? Anything else?

  • Is there a pair of symbols that would allow making these states distinct? Can it be dealt with at this level?

1 Answer 1


Interesting problem! :)

Anything with a checkmark has an associated meaning with "done" or "completed". That's probably also why the majority of getting-things-done apps use this symbol as their icon; and simply the name of "checklists" indicates you finished checking stuff.

It will be even more distinct if you remove the square and only use the checkmark in a corner of the photo. This reduces the visual cues for something being "selected" and focuses more on just being "done".

It is better to come with an alternative for the "selected" state, for which the checkmark is a lesser choice, especially in combination with needing a "processed" state, as you noted.

Small changes would already increase the distinction with a completion state by using a cross [x] instead of a checkmark (including the square around the cross), or a filled square, colored dot, etc.

Making a visual cue for selection is likely to be easier than for completion because you can give immediate feedback to the user, and the selection is easily undone (e.g. it's easier to explore & find out the meaning of this visual cue). For completion, it needs to be clear instantly because you don't just "try out" this kind of interaction and then undo it.

  • Great answer, especially regarding removing the square around checkmark (does not look like something that awaited checking off a moment before). However, I always have problem with using [x] for marking selection, because another meaning may jump in, which is marking for deletion. However, this is some solution of the problem. Looking forward to see other ideas, though, I want to collect as many as possible. Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 9:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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