I am currently redesigning a Call Management app: http://goo.gl/hn95F4

I used some arrow icons for incoming and outgoing calls.
The arrows point towards the outside of the screen for outgoing calls, and towards the inside for incoming.

Most of the app views display the call list in a similar format:
- left: number/contact details
- right: call direction
However the app also provides statistics for the entire call history which are formatted differently, arrows on the left side, which makes them pointing outside of the screen for incoming calls and inside for outgoing:

There was recently a review from a user who said:
And, is it just me, or wouldn't the call to and call from logs be better shown in reverse, ie, as arrows pointing to and pointing from?

Does it make more sense for the icons to be reversed?

Important note: the user base is split in two:
- those who use the app for its way of displaying the log (list, group, search);
these users see mainly the first layout
- those who use the app for its meaningful statistics;
these users see mainly the second layout

  • Why don't you get rid of the icons altogether and just use the text?
    – user43251
    May 28, 2014 at 12:15
  • You're talking about the second layout only? May 28, 2014 at 12:22
  • In the actions column on the first screenshot.
    – user43251
    May 28, 2014 at 12:28
  • that's actually not a column. that is a tabbed view, with the "history" option selected May 28, 2014 at 12:31
  • Maybe shift them tabs to just below the breadcrumb trial as well then!
    – user43251
    May 28, 2014 at 12:39

2 Answers 2


The lowest-effort solution:
Move the incoming/outgoing icons to the left


  • Composition pattern more closely matches that of Android (KitKat US) history (from left to right):

    • photo
    • name & device (eg. mobile)
    • status: inbound/outbound/missed
    • call button
  • No effort to redesign the icon
  • Icon maintains its meaning for users
  • More effectively tie the action (ie. call duration/missed call) with the timeline by moving the information closer together
  • Save real estate

New mockup

Hope that helps!

  • Here is the complete design mock-up: softrelay.ro/g/ucl2 Search for logs3.fw.png - this screen needs to keep the icons on the right. May 29, 2014 at 7:17
  • You really should separate the arrows from the phone. It's not clear that it means "call" even though I know the icon's meaning because it doesn't look like a primary action button.
    – SwankyLegg
    May 29, 2014 at 16:05
  • It's not an action button. It just shows which type of log entry is that. By the way, calling is made by sliding a row: softrelay.ro/g/ucl2/logs3slide2.fw.png May 30, 2014 at 7:02
  • That's a really non-standard interaction to call...
    – SwankyLegg
    May 30, 2014 at 7:05
  • Actually it is standard on all Samsung devices (+60% of all Android) May 30, 2014 at 7:47

I would definitely not use two icons (and even worse opposite icons) to indicate states differently in two views. In this case you would actually punish the user for remembering the icon. I don't think an icon should ever be dependent on the position on screen.

A solution:

I would add the phone icon to the icon, as is done in Call History. Then it is clear the arrow is either pointing to the phone (incoming) or from the phone (outgoing).

The advantages:

  • The icon is not affected by the position on the screen.
  • The icon is the same for all screens.
  • Well... those are two separate icons (the phone icon can be a chat bubble for text messages or an envelope for mail etc) May 28, 2014 at 12:55
  • Anyway... Having a rectangular icon instead of a square one would totally break the layout May 28, 2014 at 12:58

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