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During a subscription process; the user has to select a product, out of a possible four, and then advance to the next stage where they enter their payment details.

Is there a preference over having the four product buttons also perform the action of moving the user to the next page once clicked or having the product buttons simply to select the product and then a 'next' button to advance.

My preference is to have a "next" button so that each click is performing a single, expected, action. This also allows a default product to be selected upon initial visit to that page.

Alongside potentially reducing clicks, are there any benefits to having the product select button also act as a 'next' button and take the user to the next page?

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Nice question. Think as you've answered yourself, select then click to next is best as it avoids anything unexpected. Also gives the user the visual cue "Yes, you've selected Product X over Product W, Y and Z" –  slawrence10 Dec 28 '12 at 20:48
    
If the button is labelled "buy X", how is it unexpected that clicking it buys X? –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 29 '12 at 12:49
    
@JimmyBreck-McKye When there are further stages to a process I feel that it could be misleading to have a 'Buy' button when really the button is just advancing you. Using a word other than 'Buy' in this situation may be a good solution :) –  Lishamatish Jan 2 '13 at 12:26

3 Answers 3

It's best to make it clear what the user is doing, and to not surprise them with unexpected behavior (a page disappearing upon click is unexpected behavior). A next button lets them change their choice before confirming (without having to traverse back), and provides a cleaner architecture. Reducing clicks doesn't usually affect a user's satisfaction level.

However, if you can find another way of presenting the "next step" in a way that the user can still change their original choice, than that might also be an option. Maybe your form continues to expand downwards, or sideways. This gives the user an understanding of where they are in the form process, and provides pretty easy navigation back.

Edit: If this is a process you see your users using often on a daily basis, than maybe it's worth the time saving trick, but I can't imagine any purchases like that. On top of that, I feel like a user probably doesn't want to rush through a purchase, and if they're doing it often and regularly, you probably want to ensure that they're not making a mistake before moving them on.

Edit 2: In the comments below Jimmy has also pointed out that having arrows in answers might imply multiple paths through the purchase wizard, which isn't necessarily the case.

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Why would the user need confirmation after clicking "buy X"? Why would that button performing an action be unexpected? How are you going to mitigate the risks of users not seeing a next button if it's in peripheral vision and failing to complete their task? I think you've overcomplicated things. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 29 '12 at 12:56
    
They are not necessarily choosing to "buy X". The user is in a subscription process and now gets to choose a product (I guess like "Choose your free gift")...so alike to a form, it would be strange if you clicked an option then it forwarded you to the next page. Users normally expect a submit for any kind of form. It also give the user the assurance that they've chosen Product X, over the other 3 options. If the product selection has a clear indication that it also forwards you to the next page (such as an arrow) then fair enough. –  slawrence10 Dec 29 '12 at 15:57
    
My main concern with this option is that if the same process is used to alter the subscription, by changing the product that you are subscribed to, it would not be possible to have a default selected - one which represents the users current choice. –  Lishamatish Dec 29 '12 at 20:58
    
@JimmyBreck-McKye But why do that? The two step click and continue paces the customer, let's them make the decision, let's them make sure they've selected the right thing. I've linked to studies that show that reducing clicks doesn't actually increase customer satisfaction, so why use functionality that forces the user to the next step? –  Simon Dec 30 '12 at 2:04
    
@Lishamatish Why not? just have the product high-lighted? –  Simon Dec 30 '12 at 2:05

If the only decision the user has to make is to choose a product, then the one-click solution is the better one given that you title your page appropriately, such as "choose a product," I think that's clear enough that when they click a button, a product is being chosen.

Having a "next" button in addition to a selection mechanism is only relevant when the user has to make more than one decision, such as choose a product and a color for that product.

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+1, the alternatives are just adding unnecessary complexity. It's as if people are irrationally scared of page transitions. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 29 '12 at 13:12
    
Hmmm although there will be another button on this page which will toggle between two other options, whether you want to pay Monthly or Yearly. This will have a default. I still think that this approach would work though... as the additional option will have a default selection. –  Lishamatish Jan 2 '13 at 12:50

If you're using commands buttons, then there is no issue with the selection also advancing to the next page since command buttons (like ordinary menu items) indicate by their appearance that they perform an action beyond setting a parameter value. If you include a label like "Proceed using:" above your column of command buttons, I expect users will understand what will happen next. If they don't, so what? It's not like they'll be confused. They'll see they've advanced. Sometimes the unexpected is delightful, not frustrating. The advantage is to save the users a click -worth about two seconds for practiced users.

List boxes, combo boxes, and radio buttons set a parameter value and do nothing else. These should not advance the user. Using one of these controls is preferred if there are other things the user may select or set on the same page after choosing the product.

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+1, again: it's absolutely fine for a button to advance a page if it's signposted. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 30 '12 at 2:40

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