Is a confirmation page a step in a process?

22 Feb 2011 - 4:34pm
3 years ago
14 replies
1805 reads
Alexis
2007

Regarding linear processes or wizards that include a clearly communicated number of steps such as Step 1 of 3, Step 2 of 3, etc.. My client is a large and well-known financial company. I am coming on to a project where we are designing standards for design patterns for a system. I came across a pattern where someone designed a linear flow (for making a payment for example) when Step 3 is actually the confirmation screen saying "Thanks, payment has been made" There is nothing left for the user to do but close the dialog. While I understand that it is a screen in the process, I feel it is deceiving to the user by making him/her think there are 3 steps from the very beginning when there are really only 2 pages of things they actually need to do. Do you think this a 2-step process or a 3-step process? My feeling is it's only 2 but I'd like to get some additional opinions before I recommend that they change it.

Thanks,
Alexis Antonelli
User Experience Consultant
http://uxconsultant.com/

Comments

22 Feb 2011 - 4:51pm
trump29
2010

I agree that it's a two step process -- the confirmation screen is feedback, not a step in itself. Unless it's one of those "Confirm and submit" kind of pages, I wouldn't show it to the user as a step in the flow.

22 Feb 2011 - 5:05pm
bikeboy389
2011

I'd go ahead and suggest to the client that it's only two steps, then try to get them to defend it if they disagree. I'd want them to be able to tell me what purpose it serves to tell customers about it as a step. Perhaps they have some reasoning behind it--and whether it's the kind of reasoning you should just respect and move on, or the kind that needs to be diplomatically shot down, I'd want to know what that reasoning was.

As long as you have a solid argument to make that it's NOT a step, and that calling it one is confusing or whatever, I think you should suggest what you feel gives the best experience.

22 Feb 2011 - 5:43pm
philipbrook
2008

Not knowing the context of the whole system, (or steps 1 and 2) is there missing info from screen 3? I'm thinking a reference number  or summary/receipt to save off? Legally, does a user needs to actively acknowledge that a payment has been made? If the confirmation info resides somewhere else in the system, maybe it is a 2-stepper where step 3 is really a 'refresh'. It may still need to say how much from where and to whom. Is there an email that is auto-generated and sent as a receipt?

23 Feb 2011 - 1:36am
uxgrace
2010

I would also consider that a 2 step process. By definition a process has so many steps as many Next (or OK, Proceed etc) buttons the User has to click to complete the process. In your story, the action was completed on the previous step thus I would not feel that the Summary is part of the process. It's just a summary :)

23 Feb 2011 - 2:05am
holger_maassen
2010

As already previously mentioned before, it essentially depends on the context.

But generally when I develop such processes both cases are right ... because ...

  1. when I draw the flow the confirmation page is part of the process
  2. but when I draw the wireframes it's not part of the website's process / breadcrumb

checkout process

23 Feb 2011 - 10:35am
Amy Silvers
2007

I ran into a similar mindset at a previous job, where the steps in the checkout process were something like "sign in," "enter payment information," and "thank you." To my mind, "thank you" (or "order confirmed," etc.) is not a step and shouldn't be treated as one. Even though there are three steps from the system perspective, the user is concerned with what they need to do, and the number of listed steps should reflect this.

23 Feb 2011 - 11:35am
r32soul
2009

I think confirmation of payment should definitely be part of the step by step process.  If you are from financial company, the confirmation step is extremely important especially when it comes to making a payment.  You have to account for a step where users acknowledges that payment is successful, and that you allow users to print the confirmation screen or OK the confirmation of the payment being successful. 

23 Feb 2011 - 11:35am
r32soul
2009

I think confirmation of payment should definitely be part of the step by step process.  If you are from financial company, the confirmation step is extremely important especially when it comes to making a payment.  You have to account for a step where users acknowledges that payment is successful, and that you allow users to print the confirmation screen or OK the confirmation of the payment being successful. 

23 Feb 2011 - 11:35am
r32soul
2009

I think confirmation of payment should definitely be part of the step by step process.  If you are from financial company, the confirmation step is extremely important especially when it comes to making a payment.  You have to account for a step where users acknowledges that payment is successful, and that you allow users to print the confirmation screen or OK the confirmation of the payment being successful. 

24 Feb 2011 - 1:53am
Headspace
2010
In general it depends on how you use the confirmation. If it is merely a feedback (which could also be represented in a layer) it might not be counted as a step within the process. In most cases, the confirmation is employed to deliver additional information and/or directions, therefore it should be considered as a full step.
24 Feb 2011 - 9:35am
jonkarpoff
2009

I would say that confirmation, just as a failure defines a change in state and requires that an actor (the System) must take an action. This is an explicit step in the process flow:

On Succes: System displays a confirmation
On Failure:  System displays an error message

I would also certainly include both states in wireframes as these are pages that:
(1) Need the behaviors defined
(2) Need to be designed and produced

Rule of thumb: If you can describe a change in state as a Actor/Verb/Subject statement it is a step in the process -- System/Displays/Confirmation
Or in SCRUM the user story would be: System needs to displays a confirmation so the user knows the transaction has succeeded

24 Feb 2011 - 9:42am
jonkarpoff
2009

Just another thought...

If the verb is "display" then that has to be a trigger for a wireframe, unless there is a generic "confirmation message page" that you can simply reference. (Draw once, use many).

One good analysis tool for process is a swimlane diagram where you have lanes for User, Presentation, Logic and Data. Really lets you understand interactions at all levels in depth while not requiring in-depth tehcnical definitions of the components (conceptual model only).

25 Feb 2011 - 12:35am
Sridhar
2010

Treat it as a step, if by taking that step the user is actually doing an action on the system.

25 Feb 2011 - 10:23am
sherihy
2008

You said: "There is nothing left for the user to do but close the dialog." Is the confirmation message in a dialog box, or is the whole process in a dialog box or layer?

Generally you want a checkout flow to be as short as possible, to make it seem less intimidating/time-consuming to the user. BUT two steps is VERY short. People like lists of three, they help to organize things. So if the process is three steps (including confirmation), I see no problem with listing the confirmation page as a step.

If the process takes place on the page and not in a dialog box, and you have a clear listing of the steps as an element on the page (let's call it the breadcrumb trail, even though the steps are most likely not clickable), you would be telling people in advance that Step 3 is the confirmation, so there would be no surprises there. Conversely, if you didn't list the confirmation as a step in the process, the confirmation page would either be missing the breadcrumb trail, or it would have the breadcrumb trail but the step you're "on" is not listed. Both of which are confusing.

Sheri

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