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August 12, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: order status

Kris Arnold writes in:

I recently placed an order with, a t-shirt retailer. The experience was mostly a good one, except for a small problem with their order status screen.

I am used to an order status like "Shipped" or "Pending," indicated with words. Here, though, status is represented with cryptic icons.

The yellow icon with white lines appears to mean "Pending."


and the green one with white lines and a red checkmark means "Shipped."


There is no explanation of these symbols via the FAQ or anywhere else that I could find on the site.

After seeing two of the symbols, I see what may be a yellow/green traffic light metaphor. (I suppose "Cancelled" is red with white lines. I wonder about "Back Ordered"...) But, before my order shipped, I saw just the first yellow status icon and I had no idea what it represented.

If they aren't going to use words for indicating an order status, then there should be a prominent key on the page indicating what each icon represents.


yeah i'd say broken

Posted by: bonsushi at August 12, 2006 01:47 AM

So what does purple with blue polka dots mean? Or is that just the colorblindness test?

Posted by: Erich at August 12, 2006 01:54 AM

The green one with the white lines and a red tick indicate you have successfully been through the checkout since the white lines are actually a shopping trolley. As to the yellow one, it seems to be again a shopping trolley but with lines behind it indicating fastness which I would assume to be saying that the item is on it's way.

Very broken that the symbols are so small that you can hardly see them. There should be a key available, or they should just use words which everyone could understand.

Posted by: xsparkyx at August 12, 2006 07:33 AM

Broken thing #1: Using icons and not text to display status. (What about those with text-only browsers or those with vision impairment)

Broken thing #2: Icons are too small.

Text should certainly be used ALONG WITH larger icons.

Posted by: freedomlinux at August 13, 2006 12:33 PM

That /is/ broken.

Posted by: Fayth at August 13, 2006 03:18 PM

Freedomlinux has pointed out the severe problems with this sort of design. I'd also add that icons are meant to provide meaningful information at a glance. Cryptic icons with no text labels, or legend fail miserably.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at August 14, 2006 08:26 AM

(By the way, posting comments from IE is still broken, so I'm using Firefox).

Spreadshirt does have a cool feature - they have a nifty applet that lets you upload images and size and move them and have them put on a shirt.

But... it is broken (somewhat) - it doesn't handle transparent areas in your image, if you upload a GIF with transparency the transparent areas all turn solid white.

Posted by: Sashazur at August 14, 2006 03:22 PM

You can try this:

Place the mouse over the little image (on the real site), then, Do NOT move the mouse within about 5 seconds. A yellow box will perhaps appear, telling what the icom mean.

(If the site creater used ALT-texts)

Posted by: sebastian at November 11, 2006 05:03 PM

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