Symbol / icon for "Clear All" button

26 Mar 2007 - 11:18am
4 years ago
9 replies
8604 reads
Rune Lund-Hermansen
2006

Hi,

I'm currently working on an on-screen keyboard as part as the GUI for a set-top box (for typing in passwords, urls etc). I have found that there seems to be a pretty consistent use of symbols/icons for function keys such as Backspace, Shift and Space on existing physical keyboards and mobile devices. So these symbols are pretty well known amongst users. For instance, an outlined up-arrow as the shift symbol.

However, I also need a 'Clear all' (or 'Reset') button, and we are having some discussions on our team as to how a Clear symbol/icon on such a button should look since we've found no consistent references. Is there an often used symbol that I have missed out on, or does anyone here have a clever idea how to illustrate the function? Note: Graphics are shown in small sizes on TV's so small detailed graphics is not ideal.

Cheers, Rune

Comments

26 Mar 2007 - 10:24pm
Todd Moy
2007

Rune - the closest I can think of is an eraser icon, but I'd bet
that's pretty unevenly implemented. Why not just a button with the
text "clear all"? It's not sexy and you might need to localize it, but
it gets the job done.

27 Mar 2007 - 3:32pm
Rune Lund-Hermansen
2006

> Rune - the closest I can think of is an eraser icon, but I'd bet
> that's pretty unevenly implemented. Why not just a button with the
> text "clear all"? It's not sexy and you might need to localize it, but
> it gets the job done.

Thanks all. I really appreciate the feedback.

Thing is, I'm trying to avoid a text string on the button because it would
require localization and also the text doesn't fit on the current button
size (the button is part of a keyboard layout so increasing the button size
would raise other problems).

I guess the conclusion so far is that there seems to be no broadly accepted
or used symbol for a "clear" function.

Will, you are right. However, in this particular context it is quite obvious
to the user what the scope is. For instance, the keyboard pops up when the
user has to enter a password. But since typing with this sort of on-screen
keyboard does tend to be rather slow, I am looking for a way to visually let
the "Clear All" button indicate some sort of severity to warn the user. My
current solution is a filled circle with a cutout "X" in the middle. Not
sure that will hold though.

Cheers,
Rune

27 Mar 2007 - 5:36pm
Sharma, Amit (S...
1969

> I guess the conclusion so far is that there seems to be no broadly
accepted or used symbol for a "clear" function.

I would suggest using the calculator metaphor, using the bold letter "C"
or "CE" for clear all.

Thanks,
Amit

27 Mar 2007 - 5:37pm
Pawson, Mark
2007

I was also thinking the eraser icon as this is what we use for the Clear
button and three erasers offset from each other for the Clear All
button. Tooltips appear when mouseing over the icons. This was the
design of the former UI team. I do not know how much they tested details
such as this, but I can tell you it is for an International Application
where the user may want to clear one statement from a parametric query
or all of them. Personally if it wasn't for the tooltips I don't think
three erasers implies clear all, but I cannot offer anything better.
So if you implement it then maybe we can achieve world domination for
Clear All :)

Mark Pawson
User Centered Design Team
IHS

29 Mar 2007 - 1:03pm
Gil Barros
2006

hi Rune,

If you have the resources, might be worth checking the ISO 7000.

ISO 7000:2004
Graphical symbols for use on equipment
http://www.iso.org/iso/en/CatalogueDetailPage.CatalogueDetail?CSNUMBER=35627

Here's an article that talks a bit about it and shows the basic pattern used in
these signs.

http://www.ce-mag.com/archive/01/09/peckham.html

Gil.

Sharma, Amit (SMO)(Innova) escreveu (27.03.07 19:36):
>> I guess the conclusion so far is that there seems to be no broadly
> accepted or used symbol for a "clear" function.
>
> I would suggest using the calculator metaphor, using the bold letter "C"
> or "CE" for clear all.
>
> Thanks,
> Amit

4 Apr 2007 - 1:45pm
Rune Lund-Hermansen
2006

Ok, I have found a pretty good solution to this challenge. Re-thinking the
term "Clear all" to something in the lines of "Discard" opened up for a
simple trash can icon. While it won't achieve world domination as the
standard "Clear" symbol it works quite well in this particular context and
has gotten some good response so far.

Thanks a lot to all responses. Very helpful indeed.

Cheers,
Rune

15 Apr 2010 - 11:33pm
Anonymous

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16 Apr 2010 - 12:55am
UsabilityArts
2010

The suggestion by Gil is excellent (ISO reference). If you are still unable to find a solution you can perform a pretty quick test with a small sample of users.

The first thoughts that came into my mind was broom, trashcan and nuke symbols. The broom is good (perhaps accentuated with a backwards arrow or ellipses. If you are saying that start over is really what the button will represent, and none of these icon ideas satisfies you, then perhaps you go with a backwards curved arrow pointing to a pipe symbol.

If that won't work, consider using this gem of a site for some inspiration: <a href="http://www.iconfinder.com">IconFinder.com</a>.

Best of luck.

16 Apr 2010 - 7:42pm
weeks.c
2010

The other alternative is to use the "c" button the remotes (depending on what you are designing for - but the A, B, C buttons can be found on both motorola and scientific atlanta remotes at this point so you get most of the market with those).  You can then put a text help message somewhere beneath or above the keyboard that says "Use the 'C' button to clear your entry."

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