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I have 3 buttons on a form: submit, cancel, and exit. I used a larger size and topmost position for the submit and put the cancel and exit as smaller buttons below on the left and right respectively.

However, a triangular placement of the buttons doesn't look right as the form is in the center of the page and it has a more vertical look than horizontal. The triangle placement doesn't seem to fit well design-wise.

I've seen suggestions to use color and size to direct users to buttons, so for this specific case, what is the best practice to position the submit/cancel buttons together, since they function as a group and then the position the exit button in a placement that fits it best as being outside the main functionality, but still part of the form?

The submit is really a calculation button and cancel resets values. The exit will take the user out of the app back to the other application page where they called the calculation app.

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What do Cancel and Exit do? –  kba Dec 7 '11 at 23:19
    
I call the the submit Calculate, just trying keeping it simple in the post. –  James Drinkard Dec 8 '11 at 1:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The ordering of buttons doesn't matter much as long as you're consistent, according to usability guru Jakob Nielsen. This is particularly true, because different conventions exist across platforms. For instance, Windows places the buttons like OK Cancel whereas it's Cancel OK on Mac OS X.

But in reality, I think you're trying to solve the wrong problem. The problem isn't how you should arrange your three buttons, but rather: do you really need three?

Again, according to Jacob Nielsen's article on Reset and Cancel Buttons, the use of a Reset button is very discouraged:

Reset clears away the user's input on a Web form, but why would people want to do that? The Web is characterized by frequent movement between pages and users rarely encounter the same form twice. Thus, a Web form is almost always cleared when the user sees it. Even when a user revisits a form in a single session, it is usually faster to edit the old data than to erase it and start over.

Also, people might accidentally hit it.

And just another thing...

There's no reason to "conform" to certain button naming conventions, per se. If what your button does is to calculate, you shouldn't call it Submit - just call it Calculate!

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The Reset and Cancel buttons idea is new to me. Thanks! –  James Drinkard Dec 8 '11 at 1:27

From a user point of view, I feel the buttons should actually be

CALCULATE . RESET FORM

with a line below, "Press Esc to return to main". Design issues may have other factors to consider, I do not know.

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