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Priority icons are more accessible

Something's changed...

Priority icons within Jira issues have been updated. Their functionality hasn't changed, but their visual design has.

They’re now more accessible to everyone, including people who are color blind, and people who may experience low vision.


Image: Table comparing original vs new priority icons

Why have icons been updated?

Feedback from users helps us shape and ship great products and features. Over time, we collected feedback regarding our original priority icons; some of the icons were difficult to differentiate from one another (namely Highest, High, and Medium), because they relied solely on color to represent different statuses. This meant they were inaccessible to people experiencing low vision or color blindness.

According to feedback, the icons could also be tricky to decipher when projected onto a large screen during a team meeting, or when being viewed on a low resolution screen.

We realized they needed a refresh. So, we began exploring new designs:

first explorations2.png

Image: Early and subsequent explorations of new priority icon designs

The set of new icons (see first image above) was agreed upon and user-tested; the goal for each new icon was to be a clear and simple representation of a priority status without relying on color. We wanted the icons to be immediately distinguishable from one another, and clearly show an ascending and descending sequence of urgency.

Accessibility benefits everyone

Our products are designed to propel you and your team onward and upward; we like to get out of your way, so you can do the best work of your life.

The original priority icons, while streamlined and simple, may have required an occasional double-take from users; a head-turn; a momentary pause and ponder. In other words, they got in the way of some users doing their best work.

Our new priority icons don’t.

The new icons function the same way as the original icons, but they’re visually distinct at a glance without relying on color. Their accessibility has improved, and we hope you like them.

Got ideas for other improvements we could make? Even small improvements can have a huge impact. Let us know in the comments below!


Dave Mathijs Community Leader Jun 23, 2021

Hi @Hannah McKenzie , when are priority schemes coming to Cloud?

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I can vouch that this was a difficult part of Jira for the color blind! So it's great to see these changes for accessibility. 

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Thank you for making accessibility improvements!

Like Hannah McKenzie likes this

Hi @Dave Mathijs,

Currently, there isn't a set date for when priority schemes will come to cloud. This Jira issue is tracking the feature's status; feel free to vote and comment, and you'll be able to stay up-to-date with any changes to the status.

I tried to use these today. Most of them worked (note: use all lowercase in the "Icon URL" field).

However, I could not get high and medium to work. Both of these priorities show the old icons, not the new ones (png and svg).

Maybe someone else can confirm this in their Jira Cloud?

(Edit: originally wrote "highest" instead of "high")

Update: support ticket submitted. I confirmed this on both Chrome and Safari.

Hi @Mykenna Cepek, I passed your feedback onto our team, and we can't locate a bug on our end. Could you please submit a ticket to our Support team and they can do a proper investigation for you? Hopefully a solution is found asap. Feel free to reach out if you experience any more problems.

Like Mykenna Cepek likes this

I like the new format but some users do not.

It would be great if Jira could upload/host all of these images publicly so we can change to the PNGs using configuration settings however we prefer.  I don't see why every icon on that idea board shouldn't be an option, even if they're not default values anywhere.

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@Mykenna Cepek @Hannah McKenzie i can confirm the same behavior is observed on our cloud instance today although it has been working fine in the past few days, today i see we have reverted to old icons for Medium and High priorities, others are using new design, weird !!

Mykenna Cepek Community Leader Jul 21, 2021

@Charles-Edouard Sadoulet The support ticket I had opened for this issue got resolved after I cleared local data and cookies for all the Atlassian-related domains in my browsers, and then giving it some time and/or closing/restarting the browsers.

With Chrome, it seemed to take a couple of hours before the new icons started showing for me. With Safari, they showed correct right after restarting that browser. Others at my organization saw only the new icons, so this seems to me to be an issue with individual browsers.

I also run with tighter security settings than most folks (e.g. disabling 3rd party cookies by default), and I've encountered UI issues several times due to my browser settings.

Tip: I like to check with at least one other user at my org to verify problems like this. I've opened too many Atlassian Support tickets that turn out to relate to (just) my browser.

Are these now available to all users? My colleague seems to have them but I don't, for instance.  Even though our "IconURLs" under Settings>Issues>Priorities are the same, the images still seem to differ.  I'm now living in the past.  How can I get these sweet icons?!?

Tyler T Atlassian Team Aug 02, 2021

@Skyler Dalley you may have to clear your browser cache to see the new icons. A quick test would be to try logging in using a private window or different browser; if that works then it is most likely the browser cache.

This was briefly visible to me and another team member on our cloud Jira recently. We think it must have been some A/B testing on Atlassian's side?

I have some serious reservations about this. First, please advertise this change more widely. It appears nowhere in the newsletter, and it's actually quite disruptive that the Blocker and Critical priority icons are changed. A lot of Atlassian users are VERY conditioned to the appearance of these icons, since they've been pretty much unchanged for 10 years (?) We all have technical support docs that explain the meaning of priorities to our users. These will need to be updated. I personally went over a couple of issues that were blockers and did not notice they were because the icon did not register.

I can totally get behind the accessibility improvements, however:

- the existing blocker and critical icons are visually distinct already and thus do not require a change,

- the new chosen blocker icon (one way) is not good. It can be confused with a 'expand/minimize' icon and you can argue the 'one way' road sign is less universal than the 'forbidden' road sign

- most Jira set up, I believe, only use 4 or 5 priorities (blocker, critical, major, minor and sometimes trivial) and therefore aren't suffering from accessibility concerns as it stands

- I also checked the priority icon customization settings in Confluence cloud, and from what I could tell, those only let me swap existing icons (so I could pick 'minor' icon and assign this to 'blocker' priorities), not add new ones, so I'm not sure it is usable as it stands.


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