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I am developing an android application which has quite a few dialogs that just contain text and an 'OK' button. Pressing the 'OK' button loses the dialog, as does pressing the 'back' button on the phone.

Would it fit more into the touch-friendly philosophy to remove the 'OK' button and let the user intuitively close the dialog using the 'back' button?

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5 Answers 5

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If you have a full screen information dialog (or even a full screen dialog with more than information e.g. settings), you could place a "Back" button at the button instead of an "OK" button, since "OK" is more common for smaller pop-ups.

("OK" makes me think, "OK" I have read this, close this window. However, if the windows is full screen, I can't tell if it will close the previous window too. "Back" does not cause such an ambivalence.)

Specifically, on Android phones, there is always a global back button (or at least in all those I have seen), so omitting the "Back" button within the dialog would fit in with the OS's UX.

(If you do rely on the OS back button, make sure that users won't go back twice by mistake due to a long press or an additional press due to slowness in responding to the first press.)

If the information dialog does not completely hide the previous dialog (is not full screen), then an "OK" button would fit in with common UX. Clicking outside the dialog could be a useful secondary means for closing the dialog, however, you would have to leave a margin around the dialog that doesn't close it in order to prevent the sausage fingers effect from cause accidental closure of the dialog.

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I'd say don't surprise users - saving few pixels here and there will be less useful then providing your users with clear action point and focus point of the current screen. Also, chances are that other apps will follow well established guidelines and patterns one of which certainly is to have OK or other buttons.

Think about it like this as well - user clicks (or perhaps is better to say "taps") on some command and dialog appears - though it is just informational user knows that at some point it needs to dismiss it. So, instead of forcing the user to look for empty space and borders to tap there to dismiss the screen, just use the standard OK button. You might, however, try to experiment with having X button in top-left corner.

Again, if you are actually displaying full screen dialog, basically a page, then you should use back button since it represents mental flow of the user in better way.

And finally, since Android is treating dialogs as pages, using the Back button is pretty natural thing.

And one extra tip I just got from our Chief Information Architect, Darko, regarding labels on buttons: best is OK (as you assumed) followed by Dismiss and worst would be Close.

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I don't know what kind of texts are in those dialogues (or how long the texts are), but you should seriously consider showing toast notifications instead of dialogues. Why forcing the user to tap so much just to acknowledge that they have read the message. I think this will become annoying. Android standards strongly suggest that you should keep your texts as short and concise as possible. This link might be a useful resource: http://developer.android.com/design/index.html

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Agreed, I use toasts where possible, but these dialogs do contain a lot of text and the dialogs are generated by the user with the intent to read the contents, so I don't think toasts would work here. –  DanielGibbs Jun 4 '12 at 8:05

Is the information dialog part of a wizard? If yes, I think that user would expect and explicit button to continue doing what they where doing. If the user explicitly clicked a control to view informational dialog back might sufficient.

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The dialogs are displayed by the user clicking a button. E.g. clicking the about button displays the about dialog etc. –  DanielGibbs May 31 '12 at 23:44
    
If it is a full screen info page and not a lightbox, back button seems appropriate. –  Anna Rouben Jun 1 '12 at 0:06
    
Ok, but with a standard non-full-screen dialog, then it should include the 'OK' button? –  DanielGibbs Jun 1 '12 at 0:32

I think for non-full-screen dialogs, having an OK button could be a waste of screen space. If you remove OK button then let the user tap outside the dialog to dismiss it in addition to the back button. Another option could be to show a cross (x) image on the top right corner of the dialog.

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Just to note in general on a phone, that "X" would probably be a really, really small touch target and thus not that great to interact with. –  GotDibbs Jun 1 '12 at 14:45
    
@GotDibbs I agree and that is why I proposed 'tap outside the dialog to dismiss" option in addition to the back button to dismiss the dialog. –  Aziz Shaikh Jun 4 '12 at 5:26

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