Saturday, January 06, 2007

OK/Cancel buttons

The usability of the OK and Cancel buttons ...

"OK and Cancel buttons are omnipresent on the web. Of course, they aren’t always labeled OK and Cancel and they don’t always have the same purpose, but we’ve seen them a million times nonetheless. The combination of the two buttons has maintained its position as a global standard for a very good reason: almost any action you perform in a web application can be canceled. This is seen often in round-trip interactions, in which the user starts an interaction on Page 1, completes it on Page 2, and is then returned to Page 1. It’s also seen in inline interactions, such as changing the title of a Backpack page.

Typically, the set of buttons is displayed as two side-by-side HTML buttons. This is true in many desktop applications as well. Sadly, this design has persisted for years and has found its way into millions of apps. See, the unfortunate side-effect of standards is that people often stop questioning them, and progress almost completely stops regardless of whether the standard is the best solution.

... Despite all this long-winded logic, labeling the button in a meaningful way is really no big deal.

All we really need to do is change the label from OK to “Save title”. Rather painless.

The final thing to think about here is the thing that goes unchallenged by designers most frequently. It’s the fact that equal weight is often given to both buttons, the two of which trigger remarkably different results. I can understand why this started. Two options equates to two buttons. But this is not what we want to do. Instead of thinking about the number of options, think about the most likely option.

The most likely option for users who have decided to create or edit this title is to save the changes. The less likely option is to cancel the changes. But by giving both buttons equal amounts of visual importance, users have to actually read the labels - on both buttons - to decide which one to click.

Applying Fitts’ Law, which dictates that the time it takes to hit a target is a function of the distance to the target and the size of the target, the ideal solution is to take some of the focus away from the Cancel option by turning it into a text link."    (Continued via    [Usability Resources]

Better OK/Cancel Buttons - Usability, User Interface Design

Better OK/Cancel Buttons


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