I have a report design where I need to show:

  • A plus icon (with some opacity) to invite the user to add a new record but it’s not mandatory
  • A plus icon to strongly invite the user to add a new record

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However, there is not enough difference between those two icons. What would you recommend to do?

Both functions are to add a record but how to highly those very subtle things in the design?

Thank you for your help

3 Answers 3


Just don't use icons and be as specific as you can.

If an item is optional, simply add a message like "Add Record (optional)". Likewise, if it is mandatory, something like "Add record (mandatory)".

This is really as simple as it can be. After that, you can reinforce with validation, iconography, natural language wording and so on, but the barebones approach is: You don't need icons. You need a clear message instead.


I'm with Davin in that you need a clear message and not an icon. But if the report does not allow for text you could look into using an exclamation mark next to the plus.


I think it is actually best to have the icon and the text label if possible, but as suggested change one of the icons to something that can be distinguished easily so that the user will learn the subtle difference over time.

If you can't provide a text label then a hover over behaviour or a legend can be used instead.

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