Outdated Icons + RTL

26 Apr 2006 - 4:22am
8 years ago
4 replies
1680 reads
Omri Eliav
2004

On Apr 26, 2006, at 12:11 AM, maria romera wrote:

> It's also interesting to note that when I ran user testing of
> Arabic text entry software in Cairo, I found out most people are
> writing text messages left-to-right using Roman letters instead of
> right-to-left in Arabic script. Why? Because most people had
> Nokia phones which shipped with the default language English, and
> although you could change it to Arabic most people didn't.

And we, right-to-left writers, were fed up from no/semi/bad solutions
and options of RTL writing.

Regarding icons, I haven't test that, but I feel it's quite easy for
us to perceive the function of the <- back icon for instance. We see
it as part of the application and not as something to do with the
writing direction.
I can't think of an example, but if it is to do with manipulation of
text, it might be a problem.

Overall, I think cultural differences are more important in that
context.

Omri

Comments

26 Apr 2006 - 12:01pm
Juan Lanus
2005

On 4/26/06, Omri Eliav <omri at guiguy.co.il> wrote:
> Overall, I think cultural differences are more important ...
For example in photography. Or painting. We LTRs read images starting
from the upper left corner.
Recently Jakob Nielsen was promoting a report about an F-shaped read
pattern from an eye-tracing test. Would the F stand for RTL-ers?
Should designers make a mirrored design? Should El Greco repaint his
pictures?
--
Juan Lanus

26 Apr 2006 - 3:48pm
mariaromera
2005

Omri Eliav <omri at guiguy.co.il> wrote:
>And we, right-to-left writers, were fed up from no/semi/bad solutions and options >of RTL writing.

Understandable. Hopefully I came up with a good design for RTL (it tested very well in Cairo), but since I left that company I don't know if the code ever went any where... <shrug>

It's a good reminder to all of us that internationalizing a product means a lot more than translating prompts.

and Juan Lanus <juan.lanus at gmail.com> wrote:
>We LTRs read images starting from the upper left corner.Recently Jakob >Nielsen was promoting a report about an F-shaped read pattern from an >eye-tracing test. Would the F stand for RTL-ers? Should designers make a >mirrored design?

I have some opinions here, but you bring up an interesting question here -- is there any eye-tracking data that looks specifically at cultural differences in scan patterns?

The only folks I knew doing eye-tracking research were looking at Air Traffic Control... do Israeli controllers scan differently from American controllers??

hmmm...

Maria

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26 Apr 2006 - 4:55pm
Markus Grupp-TM
2006

> For example in photography. Or painting. We LTRs read images starting from the upper left corner.
> Recently Jakob Nielsen was promoting a report about an F-shaped read pattern from an eye-tracing test. Would the F stand > for RTL-ers? Should designers make a mirrored design? Should El Greco repaint his pictures?

I'm not sure whether El Greco should repaint his painting, but interaction designers do mirror the UI for RTL users :-)

A mirrored F would be more likely to represent the read pattern of RTL readers (I would be interested in seeing any similar research.) Actually, it is not as easy as simply mirroring an entire interface. Certain elements are mirrored, others just have different alignment or orientation.

1. Icons
- Leave the icon in its LTR orientation: the Arabic version of Windows leaves most icons unchanged, with the exception of some direction ones.. back, forward, etc.
- Mirror the icon's orientation: the Arabic/ Hebrew versions of the Nokia 9300/9500 have mirrored all of the icons (leaving the metaphor unchanged)
- Develop icons specifically for a RTL user (with culturally appropriate metaphors)

2. Layout (of UI components)
- The layout is usually completely mirrored
- For example, the order of icons is mirror in the Windows Explorer toolbar is mirrored, as are the layouts for window panes
- On mobile devices, softkey functionality and labels are usually mirrored if the keys are arranged horizontally. If the softkeys are vertically arranged, then the functionality and labels are not mirrored.

3. Text labels - RTL languages
- As expected, these appear written RTL, are right aligned.

4. Text labels - LTR languages (within a RTL interface, such as file paths, English labels, etc.)
- These appear to written LTR, but are usually also right aligned.

5. Text Input fields
- Text entry is based on the entry language (RTL languages are entered right-to-left, and vice versa)
- Bi-directional text (or 'Bidi', when input language is changed during text entry, text is cut and paste, etc.) is based on the Unicode standard: http://www-306.ibm.com/software/globalization/icu/index.jsp

The very fact that we are discussing 'mirroring' indicates the nature of 'designing' interfaces for RTL languages are often an afterthought, or at the very least, a localization exercise. The ideal scenario would be to design an interface from the ground up, based on the specific requirements of
RTL-language users (Arabic, Hebrew or otherwise). However, given the economics of software design/development, mirroring has been used in most software application for the Arabic and Hebrew markets.

For the web, a similar approach has been used. For example, have a look at the Al-Jazeera website: http://www.aljazeera.net
- You will notice the primary navigation menu are ordered RTL.
- The secondary (left) navigation appears to the right, where it is right aligned.
- Input fields support have RTL text entry On input forms, the submit button is to the right of the cancel button.

________________________________
Markus Grupp
Product Manager
Handset User Experience Design
Telus Mobility
200 Consilium Place, Suite 1600
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M1H 3J3
416-279-4367 telephone
647-684-4367 mobile (MIKE: 4367)
416-279-3817 fax
markus.grupp at telusmobility.com
www.telusmobility.com

26 Apr 2006 - 6:15pm
Juan Lanus
2005

On 4/26/06, Markus Grupp <Markus.Grupp at telus.com> wrote:
> The very fact that we are discussing 'mirroring' indicates the nature of 'designing' interfaces for RTL languages are often an afterthought, or at the very least, a localization exercise.

It's been many, many years for to get computers display and print the
Spanish "N-tilde".
Last year I worked on the printing of the all voters roster (what´s
it's name?) and there were still many # characters in place of the
N-tilde, the replacement character in IBM mainframes of the sixties.
We Spanish users need only 6 accented characters and still have
trouble 50 years ago. Can you see them: [áéíóúÁÉÍÓÚñÑü]? Only the 5
vowels with acute accent, and ntilde.
I imagine the RTL-ers quest as infinitely more complex and
frustrating, and still not totally solved.
It's not about a version or a web site, it's about using the PC as an
everyday pervasive tool in a state of permanent culture clash.
Isn't there a Linux RTL-focused distribution? Like those successful
Far-Eastern distros?
--
Juan Lanus

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