I work on an application that allows users to tell their story of their experience in health and social care. At the moment, that's an entirely text based affair. To try to make it easier for people with varying levels of communication difficulty to also tell their story we're working with a third party to enable users to include pictures where their position indicates how happy or not they were with certain aspects of care.

The way this works is simple, the user drags an image that they care about from the bottom tray of icons (not shown) and places it on the story area in line with how they feel about it:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Depending on communication level, the user can also type as much or as little text into the area as they want ending in a patchwork of images and snippets of story (or explanation).

My problem (and question) is simple - should "HAPPY" and "NOT HAPPY" be the other way round?

The reason that it's this way round in the initial ideas is that the third party use this system physically in person and that's the way round they do the scale. However, I'm very used to seeing scales going from negative to positive left to right and this feels backwards to me. Is that a valid concern? Should I even be comparing this to rating scales?

  • I imagine in the health care industry you mention they are used to the positive to negative arrangement due to the common use of the Pain Assessment Tool.
    – DasBeasto
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:36
  • related: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/63513/…
    – Crissov
    Aug 16, 2016 at 17:33
  • i have seen kiosks at certain airports recently that are designed to capture how people feel about the experience going through the airport. The kiosk simply has four emoticons (from angry to very happy) - you simply place your boarding pass into a scanner in the kiosk screen, then tap one of the four emoticons. Very neat way to capture peoples feelings.
    – SteveD
    Aug 17, 2016 at 12:35

2 Answers 2


We are used to seeing from negative to positive, but we are not the users of the system. Design something your users are familiar with.

  1. Currently are there any system components which behave from right to left?
  2. Are users using it frequently?
  3. Do their mental model is more attuned to that way of menu placements?
  4. Are you in a country where RTL is more prevalent style?
  • 1
    Thanks, very useful questions to consider. Based on the answers to them I do think it's more compelling to swap the order.
    – RobH
    Aug 16, 2016 at 9:45
  • Agreed - the left-to-right bias is pretty recognized, at least in Western culture.
    – Mattynabib
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:17
  • Drag and drop is a hidden feature, so good practice generally suggests you should always provide a non drag and drop method as the primary obvious interaction, then use drag and drop interaction as an alternative method for those people who discover it.
    – SteveD
    Aug 17, 2016 at 12:30

As mentioned above, I agree with the first answer about swapping the scale (there are people who prefer it the way you have it above, but in general I believe negative to positive left to right is more standard).

However, is the "drag and drop an item in a target area" your best bet for this mechanism? I know only the tiniest bit here, but I'm wondering if something more space-efficient would work better; perhaps the user touches/clicks on an item they care about and a slider shows up in place above it, which they can drag from Not Happy to Happy to indicate their feelings right on the item. The item could then reflect that it has been rated and show that rating in some fashion (numbers? words? color? icons? smileys? depends on your context and users, of course!).

Just a thought - no time to mock it up right now, but let me know if you have any questions.

  • I'm pretty sure I understand your description and, FWWIW, I think the current approach has a lot of wasted space but we're constrained to follow the third party implementation in that regard - we're absolutely definitely not allowed to turn them into numbers or ratings though.
    – RobH
    Aug 16, 2016 at 19:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.