Communicating Special Mode in UI

Let’s talk about small but impactful interface design details.

Special modes.

Quickly compare these two screenshots:

Doesn’t seem like much has changed on the right. Well, quite a lot. We entered the bulk select/edit mode.

This happens to me every now and then in Pocket app, resulting in confusion and irritation. I do not intend entering bulk select mode, and not being able to recognize it makes it even worse.

Problem is, the mode change is not communicated clearly. Different modes need to look different.

Gmail gets it about right. Big bold “select” checkmark and high contrast background highlight help.

Don’t hold back trying to make things clear to the user.

Designing experiences

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store