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Currently our users are able to find and replace cells in data tables in bulk. What icon, sign, ui would you recommend to show the user which data cells have been updated?

We implemented a span tag with the word updated in it and it has a blue background with rounded edges. Currently some users think it looks like a button

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    could you provide a mockup or screenshot? – Alejandro Veltri Jun 2 '15 at 12:57
  • Sounds like it does look like a button. – plainclothes Jun 3 '15 at 21:27
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well, as for icons, you can do a search for updated icons and you'll see soemthing like this:

enter image description here

As you may see, they're not conceptually descriptive and they're quite ambiguous.

However, here you need to ask yourself: do you want users to know an action was performed, or do you want users to know the result of that action? For example: do you want your users to know a cell was updated/modified/deleted/whatever so they can act on consequence, or do you want the users to know how data inside that cell has been affected? This makes a difference, because if what you want is for users to know the action was performed, then you can use the exclamation mark icon , which is a sign of warning and attention needed (see it's one of the icon's proposals)

If we're talking about content affected by the action the user has performed, you'll also see that the most common icon for "updated" (the circular arrows) is commonly used for change as well as reload, so they're not semantically unambiguous, thus you should look for something more concrete. IMHO, your best bet is.... the word "updated"

Optionally, you could use a color system, and simply have a color reference for that system. For example, you could define green as the color for updated items and grey for default items. Simply have a small reference before your board that tells the user what the color reference means

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Depends on what you're trying to solve.

Are you trying to give your user some reassurance that the update occurred? Then a subtle background animation on the updated cells would suffice.

Are you trying to give your user the ability the review the updates? Then a new window that lists every cell (or group of cells) that was updated would be nice. The user should be able to glance at the change, and quickly click "next, next next". This would be especially useful if the updates occurred off-screen, if you have large data tables, or multiple pages.

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