Projects/Usability/HIG/SOU Workspace/Status Bar

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A status bar is an area at the bottom of a window that can be used to display brief information about the status of the application.

A status bar

Contents

Guidelines

Selecting the right information

Use statusbars for information that is

  • Relevant to the current user in the current situation
  • Not critical (i.e. information that does not need immediate response)

Examples:

  • General information about the document or application. For example, current connection status in a network application, or the size of the current document in a text editor.
  • Progress of a background operation. For example, "Sending to printer", "Printing page 10 of 20", "Printing Complete".
  • Information about using the current tool. For example, while using the selection tool in a drawing application, "Hold Shift to extend the selection"
  • A description of the control or area of the window under the mouse pointer. For example, "Drop files here to upload them"

Do not use status bars for

  • Information that most users won't need while using the application. Put that information in a log file or display it in a dialog on demand.
  • Critical information to which users need to respond in order to complete their task or avoid loosing any work. Display critical information in a dialog instead. Users may miss information displayed in a status bar and some novice users might not even notice the status bar at all.

Examples:

  • Information about routine checks (unless something - non-critical - has happened)
  • An error that is critical to the task

Status bar layout

  • Display status messages on the left end of the status bar
  • Place permanent status indicators (icons or text) on the right end.
  • Place progress bars on the far right (move status indicators to the left of the progress bar when it is displayed). Don't use a placeholder when there is no background operation happening.

Providing contextual help

Use tooltips to describe status indicators that are not self explanatory or to give additional information about a status.

Interacting with the status bar

  • Use interactive widgets in the status bar sparingly - if at all. Don't use the status bar as an additional toolbar or as a replacement of the toolbar.
  • You may allow to change a status indicated on the status bar directly by clicking on the status bar indicator.
    • Never use clicking the status bar indicator as the only means to change a status. Also provide a toolbar button or menu item.

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