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I have a site that I'm designing that will use a collapsible property grid on the right of the screen to display additional information about certain items a user selects. It is not always visible, but will have a "slide-out" interaction when it is activated.

Right now, the panel that is always visible has a label on it (vertical) saying "Properties" with arrows pointing in the direction it can animate. It spans the entire height of the page.

What I wonder is, from a UX perspective, do I need to have the label properties always visible? Could I have just an arrow protruding from the side of the page (much like this example here, except even less obtrusive).

The thought is that, since the sidebar is labeled when it's expanded, after the user clicks on it once, they'll know what the sidebar is and won't need a label. It seems that it's a much more clean and modern feel to have just an arrow or small indicator as opposed to having a label always there, but I don't know what some real guidance or perspective is on this.

I hope I have been clear, thanks!

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In terms of a cleaner, more modern UI this seems like a good idea, but the problem is most users are not used to modern UI's as much as we want them to be.

This type of interaction is not obvious to the user and without guidance they will,

  1. Not notice the button at all.

  2. Users who notice will not know what it does.

If you're keen on removing the label,

  1. Use a unique icon instead of an arrow which the user will get as "Properties"

  2. Use tooltips when hovered on the icon to say what it is.

  3. Use similar interactions across the website so the user knows how certain features in the website works.

  4. Make it visible, make it obvious. Be very cautious about where you place the button. Users should not only be able see it but also get some idea what it might do or be about just by looking at it. (ie: Placing it near the product indicates it's something to do with the product.)

Make sure you test your screen to find how difficult / easy, visible, obvious it was for the user to find it.

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