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I'm working on a site that allows users to create lists, and right now we've pulled out the "delete" functionality into a separate mode. Ideally the way this would work is:

  1. The user clicks something to enter delete mode
  2. The user selects which items to delete. Changes are not applied, just visually denoted
  3. The user selects "apply" or "cancel"

For the user, what would be the best way to locate the "enter delete mode" "apply" and "cancel" buttons? Currently we have a toggle switch that just turns delete mode on and off but I think this is confusing for the user because it provides no demarcation for the fact that changes will be applied when the toggle switch is turned off:

Delete Mode turned off

Delete mode turned off

Delete Mode

Delete mode turned on

It almost looks to me as though we should have one button that becomes two but I can't imagine a good way to do this.

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I've done some research and I think I've decided to go with the "undo" approach from alistapart.com/articles/neveruseawarning however I would be interested to see if anyone has any ideas on a good way to solve the question while retaining the delete mode. –  Redian Dec 31 '12 at 2:26
    
Why would you want a delete mode? In addition to raising the problem of the user forgetting or not realizing they're in a mode, modes reduce user-in-control. Say a user is deleting some lists, but in the middle see a list that needs a quick edit. A delete mode forces them to have to remember to return later to the list to be edited. –  Michael Zuschlag Dec 31 '12 at 16:37
    
Yeah, that's kind of what we realized. However, the thought was Delete Mode clearly denotes the process of deleting (which is currently irreversible) and would then allow bulk deleting instead of confirming at every step. –  Redian Dec 31 '12 at 20:27
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The wording "delete mode" is not so user-friendly, pretty technical, just by reading it without seeing your explanation, I really didn't know what it is.

Do you have any other operations other than "delete" that could be applied to one or multiple pictures? If you do, you should have a "select items" button, and it will get into a mode where you select items with check boxes, and then choose the operation that you want to perform on the selected items from a list of operations, such as delete.

If "delete" is the only operation that applied to multiple selections, then you should name that button "select items to delete," I know it's kind of long, but that's the only way to make it clear and not feel "risky."

enter image description here

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If you want to see a really nicely implemented web version of this (or very similar) approach, check out file handling at SkyDrive website. –  kaarel Jan 2 '13 at 6:40
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You're almost touching on how Windows 8 handles multiple items in a list. A user can select an item and at that point the app bar will appear from the bottom with actions the user can perform on the selected objects. The user can continue selecting objects and perform the same actions on multiple objects. This has the benefit of not just handling

My personal problem with this method is that it's not clear what the user can do with items until they're selected. It hides the functionality off the screen, and as a result out of mind. However, if this is functionality the user is expecting and is used to (they are trained for it), than it might work.

Your solution is clearer, and I don't think bringing a user into a "delete" mode is necessarily a problem - after all, that's how you delete apps on an iphone and ipad - you can make it fairly clear (in the case of Apple's UX the apps are shaking and an 'x' appears). In fact, it often frustrates me that I have to select items one by one if I want to delete them. Here the functionality also isn't immediately visible. You have to know to hold tap on app to delete it - and I've seen this be a problem to new users.

One option is to have the delete button be there (not necessarily a toggle, and maybe just an "edit" button) and then have a action bar (like on Windows 8) appear that have the actions the user can take.

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I think the iOS delete toggle is exactly what we were thinking of when we came up with the idea. And yeah, the long press was awful so weren't going to quite have that, but at least this way you're clearly in "irreversible action mode" –  Redian Dec 31 '12 at 20:28
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