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Maybe I'm crazy, but every UI mockup I seem to get passed to me, I end up ripping apart. And in the end, my suggestions are often shot down. We end up creating UI's with what I consider to be a horrible User Experiences.

The latest is a save button for a form, with a checkbox beside it the user must check if they want a dialog for entering comments to popup upon save. Kind of like this:

[Save] [] With Comments

In my opinion this is awful. The user is going to forget to check that box, then after saving realize they meant to add comments, and have to check the box and save again.

Instead, you either always show a dialog for entering comments when saving, and let it be optional. Or, you have comments as part of the form itself.

Am I wrong here? Was this a good UI decision?

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Not saying that I agree or disagree with you, but you seem to be mostly going off of your opinion - what do you think your users would find most intuitive? –  Nic Nov 9 '11 at 21:28
    
Couldn't the "With Comments" option just spawn a comments form on that same page, but only when you need it? That fixes the whole issue of a dialog for comments complicating interaction. Clicking save to open a comments dialog is an odd interaction model. –  Ben Brocka Nov 9 '11 at 21:39
    
@BenBrocka, yes, that too would make more sense, having a button instead of a checkbox to allow the user to add comments prior to saving. The reason the save opens comments though, is the comments are for the reason you are changing the record. –  CaffGeek Nov 9 '11 at 21:48
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Shouldn't I hit save after I've made all changes to the record though? Save should save, not be an "edit" button –  Ben Brocka Nov 9 '11 at 21:52
    
@BenBrocka, I'm not disagreeing per-say, however, I suppose I am used to using source control systems that are setup to prompt for checkin comments when you "save". It's having this checkbox in order to change the functionality of the save button that bothers me. –  CaffGeek Nov 9 '11 at 21:53
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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First of all, you need to find out what is more common; saving with comments or without comments? This should be the basis for determining the next step (unless you do as I say below :P)

Making it optional means extra work for the user when he needs it. If you have the box there, like so:

(Form stuff)
File name: [              ]
Comment: [                ]
[Save]

And then after the user clicks Save, you check if there's anything in the comments box, and if it's not, don't save a comment.

If the Save button is the default button for the form, the user can press enter after typing in whatever is above the comment field. If he chooses to have a comment, he presses Tab, types the comment and THEN presses enter.

Edit: I highlighter the last paragraph because I believe it's very important for the workflow of the user to do it like this.

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Offhand, seems like a silly idea. But it's worth going through a brief UX process to think this through: Start with the basics - who are your users and what's the purpose of the form? Based on that, how important is this comments box?

If it's important, consider included at as a visible element of the form. You can even influence the type of response you'll get by the size of the box and how it's labelled. If not important, ditch it. Less is more.

If you're hoping to get comments that are only tangentially related to the form, perhaps have it appear on the page following the submit. And be sure to think through what's the process with these comments -- if people might use it to ask a question (it happens), will someone be reading and following up?

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Another design option is to present two buttons to effect a save.

[Save] [Save with comment]

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If the comment is not intended to be too long then it's much simpler to show a one-line textbox allowing the user to optionally input a comment. Having to check a box first (especially one after the Save button) is more cognitive load.

Incidentally, Stack Exchange just shows a textbox for a summary when editing a post.

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