I am working on a software where the UI is designed by a manager instead of UI experts. This has lead to many problems and inconsistencies in the visual design, user expectations and standards of the host OS are broken etc etc.

Now, the latest crime (in my eyes) are huge triangles for opening/closing of combo boxes. Combined with a thin font, this puts the weight all on the triangle, the actually important part (the name of the selected item in the combobox) is de-emphasized. If you take a screenshot and blur it, everything reduces to background color except for large blobs of foreground color where the triangles are.

I am asking here since I'm no expert either.

Are there recognized guidelines for such visual indicators, their size and weight?

Is there a agreed-upon measurement for these things?

The host OS is Windows, the design seems to be inspired by metro / win8 style, but we're on Win7 using WPF.

2 Answers 2


Balance and weight allocation

The problem you are noticing is the fact that the heavy dropdown triangles don't appear to be balanced with the lighter font it is paired with and that the weight is allocated to the triangles giving them more focus. There is no (to the best of my knowledge) standard guidelines for how big these indicators should be, the key is keeping everything on the page consistent and balanced.

Designing balanced compositions means allocating weight to page elements (based on importance) and creating a successful visual path that in return controls which elements are seen in what order.

Here is a nice article that discusses how balance impacts usability:

Visual Balance and Weight Allocation for Usability

Balance is an essential player when it comes to the success of visual communication and can be controlled by careful planning and distribution of visual weight allocation. The dynamic interplay of shapes, colors, and type elements we use to communicate our messages influences the way we view and absorb the information we present.


in line with DasBeasto's answer above, designers often have to use their good judgment based on design principles. If your client doesn't trust your judgment, and expects recognized guidelines or standards for every decision, I see a lot of frustration ahead for you.

I would suggest dealing with this deeper issue first. Perhaps focus your research on establishing why visual design is an important aspect of a good UI, and why design decisions need be left in the hands of a design professional.

You can find support for this from established authorities. I like to use references from usability.gov when dealing with clients who don't see the importance of visual design in a UI. While they may not recognize most experts on UI design, most recognize the government of the United States of America :)



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