Cancel vs. Go Back]

26 Jul 2005 - 5:42pm
9 years ago
3 replies
276 reads
Ryan Nichols
2005

Great discussion with some interesting points. Oh, and thanks Taneem :)

For further clarity on my situation, it is an edit screen. Essentially
you are viewing the details of an item, and the user would choose to
edit this item. This screen is a very small form (about 3 fields) in
which the user can alter the information. We've chosen 'save' as our
label for the default action. The second action will discard any changes
the user made and return the user to the previous screen. Okay, thats
the full scenario.

My personal feelings were to label the second action as to where you
went, hence a 'Go back'. But it's important to note that it is not
visually presented as a button but rather a link placed laterally to the
'save' button with ample space to separate it from the button. Exit
does tell you your going to leave as well. My question now is:

1) Would you think 'Exit' is better than '<- Go Back'?
2) While Todd's tests with 'Exit' were likely using two buttons similar
in appearance, does it change anything that our action is presented more
'link like' than a button? If Todd found that Exit performed well, would
a link presentation be better understood in a web context or worse?
3) Is it a bad idea to have the second action presented in a different
form than the first? So beyond the placement of default action to the
right or left, what about the secondary actions, or potentially harmful
actions, differing in their visual presentation? Bigger or smaller in
size? Differing in color or weaker in 'weight'. How far can it be pushed?

Ryan Nichols
Apples To Oranges
http://www.apples-to-oranges.com

Todd Warfel wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> On Jul 26, 2005, at 10:08 AM, Jack L. Moffett wrote:
>
>> The button order in the Mac OS is the opposite, the reasoning being
>> that the "confirmation" action that will move things forward should
>> be in the lower, right-hand corner, following the Romantic languages
>> which read left to right, top to bottom.
>
>
> We've actually studied this as well. One of the things we've observed
> is that customers/users/participants migrate towards the bottom right
> corner of the screen. There are several things we think contribute to
> this:
>
> 1. We read left to right (in the west anyway)
> 2. As you fill out forms, you're typing left to right, you use the
> mouse button to move from field to field, and your mouse is typically
> in that region anyway. *1
> 3. Scroll bars are on the right side. Again, the mouse is already in
> that area (Fitt's Law). *2
>
> I've never really understood why Windows puts the default action
> button to the left. In the Web world, there's a good technical reason
> to do this, but it's still not a good reason... On the web, the
> default button which will be executed when someone hits "Return" or
> "Enter" on their keyboard will be the first button in the list. So,
> if I hit "Return" then which ever button listed first will be executed:
>
> Cancel Okay (cancel)
> Okay Cancel (okay)
> Exit Save (exit)
> Save Exit (save)
>
>

Comments

26 Jul 2005 - 5:58pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jul 26, 2005, at 6:42 PM, Ryan Nichols wrote:

> 1) Would you think 'Exit' is better than '<- Go Back'?

In our experience, "Back" or "Go Back" doesn't communicate that the
information will be deleted, removed, or lost. So, customers tend to
be more likely to expect that the information won't be "lost" or
"deleted." They are more likely to expect that they could "go back"
and then come back into this screen and the data is still present,
which isn't the intent.

The combination of "Save" and "Exit", in our experience, tends to
communicate the actual intent and action better. "Either save my
information and let me know it's been saved, or I have changed my
mind or made a mistake and want to 'exit' out of here and you'll
disregard any changes I've made."

> 2) While Todd's tests with 'Exit' were likely using two buttons
> similar in appearance, does it change anything that our action is
> presented more 'link like' than a button? If Todd found that Exit
> performed well, would a link presentation be better understood in a
> web context or worse?

Yeah, this is a really bad idea. This is just plain confusing.
Affordance. Buttons should look like and behave like buttons. Having
a link for an action item, when others are buttons is only asking to
confuse users. When I looked at the Zip-Chem sample screen, I was
confused by the "Save" button and the "Cancel" link. Why is this? Do
they perform differently? Why isn't a button? It seemed awkward and
wrong to me.

Some of the testing we've done in the past, which validates the
affordance issue, found that when we had labels that had the same
affordance as action buttons, participants were clicking on the
labels. We honestly didn't expect it at first, but it made total
sense when it came out in testing.

We've also tested applications that had different types of "buttons"
or graphics for action items. The ones that had depth and looked like
buttons were clear. Ones that were flat and didn't share the same
affordance confused participants. They ended up asking what the
difference was and if they would have the same behavior.

If it looks different, they'll expect a different behavior.

> 3) Is it a bad idea to have the second action presented in a
> different form than the first? So beyond the placement of default
> action to the right or left, what about the secondary actions, or
> potentially harmful actions, differing in their visual
> presentation? Bigger or smaller in size? Differing in color or
> weaker in 'weight'. How far can it be pushed?

Same affordance, but we've had good luck with emphasizing the
(desired) default action (e.g. Save) and toning down the lesser
desired, or non-default action (e.g Exit). So, in other words, the
Save button appears to be highlighted, while the exit button appears
to be a little flatter in colour, perhaps a shade of the default
button. This is similar to how OS X handles buttons and we've found
this is an excellent solution.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | making products & services easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: twarfel at mac.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

26 Jul 2005 - 6:29pm
Ryan Nichols
2005

Thanks Todd, this does clear things up quite a bit. It sounds like
essentially the more button-like an action item looks, the more the user
will expect that it will perform as an action prior to pressing it.
Leading to:

1) Don't make non-action items look like a button.
2) Make all action items button-like.
3) It can be helpful to highlight default action items over non-default
action items as long as the both are similar in appearance and both look
button-like.

Sound about right?

Ryan Nichols
Apples To Oranges
http://www.apples-to-oranges.com

Todd Warfel wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
>
> On Jul 26, 2005, at 6:42 PM, Ryan Nichols wrote:
>
>> 1) Would you think 'Exit' is better than '<- Go Back'?
>
>
> In our experience, "Back" or "Go Back" doesn't communicate that the
> information will be deleted, removed, or lost. So, customers tend to
> be more likely to expect that the information won't be "lost" or
> "deleted." They are more likely to expect that they could "go back"
> and then come back into this screen and the data is still present,
> which isn't the intent.
>
> The combination of "Save" and "Exit", in our experience, tends to
> communicate the actual intent and action better. "Either save my
> information and let me know it's been saved, or I have changed my
> mind or made a mistake and want to 'exit' out of here and you'll
> disregard any changes I've made."
>
>> 2) While Todd's tests with 'Exit' were likely using two buttons
>> similar in appearance, does it change anything that our action is
>> presented more 'link like' than a button? If Todd found that Exit
>> performed well, would a link presentation be better understood in a
>> web context or worse?
>
>
> Yeah, this is a really bad idea. This is just plain confusing.
> Affordance. Buttons should look like and behave like buttons. Having
> a link for an action item, when others are buttons is only asking to
> confuse users. When I looked at the Zip-Chem sample screen, I was
> confused by the "Save" button and the "Cancel" link. Why is this? Do
> they perform differently? Why isn't a button? It seemed awkward and
> wrong to me.
>
> Some of the testing we've done in the past, which validates the
> affordance issue, found that when we had labels that had the same
> affordance as action buttons, participants were clicking on the
> labels. We honestly didn't expect it at first, but it made total
> sense when it came out in testing.
>
> We've also tested applications that had different types of "buttons"
> or graphics for action items. The ones that had depth and looked like
> buttons were clear. Ones that were flat and didn't share the same
> affordance confused participants. They ended up asking what the
> difference was and if they would have the same behavior.
>
> If it looks different, they'll expect a different behavior.
>
>> 3) Is it a bad idea to have the second action presented in a
>> different form than the first? So beyond the placement of default
>> action to the right or left, what about the secondary actions, or
>> potentially harmful actions, differing in their visual presentation?
>> Bigger or smaller in size? Differing in color or weaker in 'weight'.
>> How far can it be pushed?
>
>
> Same affordance, but we've had good luck with emphasizing the
> (desired) default action (e.g. Save) and toning down the lesser
> desired, or non-default action (e.g Exit). So, in other words, the
> Save button appears to be highlighted, while the exit button appears
> to be a little flatter in colour, perhaps a shade of the default
> button. This is similar to how OS X handles buttons and we've found
> this is an excellent solution.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | making products & services easier to use
>

26 Jul 2005 - 6:42pm
Todd Warfel
2003

That's pretty accurate.

On Jul 26, 2005, at 7:29 PM, Ryan Nichols wrote:

> 1) Don't make non-action items look like a button.
> 2) Make all action items button-like.
> 3) It can be helpful to highlight default action items over non-
> default action items as long as the both are similar in appearance
> and both look button-like.
>
> Sound about right?

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Design & Usability Specialist
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Email: twarfel at mac.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------

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