Plus Sign Better Than Chevron For Show/Hide Content

There are occasions where it makes sense to have content hidden. The user can show the content by clicking an icon.

Apple use the “more…” keyword extensively (on the App Store for example).moresignAlthough it seems to be harder to find than it used to be.

Are Plus Signs Bad?

One UX study didn’t like it:

“In fact, one person, who clearly saw it, commented that “plus means to add something, and that’s not what I want to do.” Duh.”

The site was account and finance related – so perhaps the + leads to confusion.

Should content be concealed at all?

I recently removed all show/hide buttons from a desktop version of a site. I figured that if it was good enough to be on the page – it should be displayed straight away.

However on the mobile display you are severely challenged when it comes to space.

Weight Watchers use the plus sign:

Weight Watchers homepage on mobile.

Weight Watchers homepage on mobile.

Wikipedia use a chevron or downward arrow:

wikipedia

A/B Test: Chevron or Plus Sign

I ran a small test.  I have a data table. On the desktop width there is enough room for all columns. On mobile, not so much – so the extra columns are hidden by default and shown when the user taps the row.

plussigngif

Original

plussign2

Variation

chevrons2

 

The Results

I presumed the chevron would win, based on what I had read.

I was wrong.

optimizelystats

This was a very small test (just 11,000 unique mobile visitors – unlike the large tests I did for the Hamburger button).

However, it was enough for me.

Users tapped on a plus sign 10% more times than a chevron (down arrow).

What also surprised me was the level of engagement – with almost 1 in 5 users willing to dig deeper into the table data.

See another interesting UX test here (comparing +, chevron, and triangle). The results seem to concur with my own small test.

Hi, I'm James, and for the last decade I've made a living by making my own blogs and websites.
Updated: September 12, 2016

6 Comments

  1. I’ve always viewed the plus sign at the beginning of a row to mean that there’s more for me to see. A plus sign at the end of a row means to add the item to my selection. A plus sign is also more intuitive than the chevron.

    • Exactly what this short test has shown. Interesting about the placement of the + sign. Putting it on the right would seem counter-intuitive.

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