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If I have a dialog to display to the user it has a data item displayed, and 2 seperate actions that can be done to the object. So, it's a resource and we want the user to choose which process they want to follow in order to continue. One option will go to one process and one option will go to another. Should I put the word "or" between the buttons? Does it make sense to mix the language metaphor with the button metaphor in this way?

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Does your form read as a sentence? If it does [use or], otherwise [don't use or]. (picture the text within brackets as button labels) –  Dan D. Mar 9 '12 at 16:57
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Multiple buttons imply that only 1 of the actions can be taken. It makes sense to mention "OR" when multiple actions lead to the same result, such as login options. –  dnbrv Mar 9 '12 at 17:24
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5 Answers 5

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No. It's not a good idea.

How many times have you seen this:

enter image description here

  • There is no added value, it does not give any extra information.
  • The "or" is actually part of the question, not the answer. Therefor it does not make sense. If you explicitly want to add this "or" word (which I disadvise) it should be part of the question: "Are you sure you want to delete this thing, Yes or No?". That sound childish but is more logical than putting the "or" between the action buttons, which are the answers to the question.
  • The only place where I think the "or" could be in place is when you use full sentences that contain links as actions. Such as: "Dear user, you may want to delete or move this file."
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It depends on the format and on the conventions that your application uses.

If you use a colloquial labeling convention eg:

"What is your name?" instead of "Name:"

I think it's fine to put an OR between the two actions. You will be still offering a coherent user experience and I really doubt that the user will be confused.

In case you are keeping a more 'formal' format, you could probably avoid it.

Using the OR or ommitting it, it's nearly a subjective conclusion, and I really doubt it can draw radical changes. But, i think it could be a valuable addition in case your way to communicate with the user is colloquial or conversational.

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Thanks, the language is not conversational usually. Which is probably why I thought it looked odd. –  sirtimbly Mar 9 '12 at 19:11
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You may not use the "OR" explicitly, but as in content design it can read - "Select one action to proceed"

  1. This will not be a standard UI convention, and the "OR" will not stand in alignment with the Button, since content and actions need clear demarcation.
  2. People do not really look into "OR" in line with actions, but rather more with the content, since thats the way the muscle memory is working or made to work out.

  3. Now if you were to look at this - that the People approach "Action" with conscious effort, and if you were to add the "OR" in between the two action buttons - it means there is possibility that people may miss to see the "OR", as it is visual noise, and people predict that to be something odd.

  4. By the way the buttons are 2,3 or more - it really means each say different options - and wisely it means that there is only "one thing" as a user I can click, as I see various "message" as actions, and I do not expect "OR" to be in there (even if i am novice to web and internet).

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"People do not really look into OR" - what people? Who does this? How do you know? –  Rahul Mar 9 '12 at 17:40
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Always be skeptic when someone uses statements that start with "people think that..." –  Rdpi Mar 9 '12 at 17:55
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Wouldn't it be better to use standard UI features? There's not much to go on in the question, but in Windows it means the user chooses a described option (presented with option buttons) and then the OK button -- which might be disabled until an option has been selected.

Or: two buttons always represent "OR", such as "OK" and "Cancel". They represent two mutually-exclusive actions. One or both may be disabled until all relevant data is available.

One may conclude that I don't believe stating "OR" explicitly to be a good idea. It's possible to indicate a choice by exploiting standard form controls.

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First of all we can use "Button" if both are primary actions, otherwise we can use "button" for primary action link for secondary action with/without (or).

(primary1 + primary2) = button1 button2

(primary1 + secondary1) = button1 (or) link

[or]

(primary1 + secondary1) = button1 link

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