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To better illustrate my question, here's a quick example.

When the user is attempting an action that would typically require some sort of confirmation (such as deleting a record) would it be preferable to use a dialog window or a two-stage/dropdown button? Both options require an extra click to "confirm" the action.

Are dialog's preferable because that's what most users are used to seeing? Are dropdown buttons as effective at preventing accidental clicks?

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Why you don't think about an undo action? Risky delete actions should be confirm with a confirmation dialog. None risky actions should be reversed easily. IMO... I don't like the dropdown button solution. –  sysscore Jul 25 '12 at 11:32
    
@sysscore With the current system architecture, undoing a delete is not an option. I would have preferred that solution personally. –  Jason Towne Jul 25 '12 at 14:32
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The two-step button is a definitely a clever design pattern. However, I would still opt for the dialog pattern for two reasons:

  1. The dialog pattern is a more common pattern, meaning more people will recognize it and know how to use it.
  2. The dialog pattern is more effective at preventing errors because it increases the distance between the original action (the button) and the target (the confirmation button).

It is the added distance between the action and the target that makes the dialog pattern effective because it requires the user to make a conscious choice and movement in order to confirm. Because the action and the target are so close to each other in the two-step button pattern it's potentially less effective for preventing errors because the user could click button and then the dropdown in more or less one action before they realize what they've done.

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+1 for interesting use of two-stage button. I personally have never seen such implementation of Delete. And that may be a problem.

Dropdowns are normally used to group related items together. But you are using it as a way to add an extra click, presumably to minimize accidental click.

What you really want is a prominent warning that will minimize accidental delete.

These two are not exactly the same. Even with the two-stage button, you will probably need to implement a modal-warning, because it does a better job of alerting the user of impending irreversible action.

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