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Should I use Yes/No or Ok/Cancel on my message box?

I've found that there is an annoying tendency for different programs to prompt the user concerning the same actions using opposite versions of the question.

For example:

The document has been modified. Would you like to save your changes before exiting? Yes No Cancel

The unsaved document has been modified. Would you like to discard changes? Yes No Cancel

So essentially, the user has to be reading closely to notice what Yes and No means in that context, and if they make a mistake from reading too quickly, it's too late. They have either discarded their changes or overwritten the good copy of their file.

Is it better policy to ask questions with buttons that correspond to the actual action of the button?

The document has been modified. Would you like to save your changes before exiting? Save Discard Cancel

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Use Save/Discard/Cancel. See ux.stackexchange.com/a/9960/16833 . Your user didn't read your dialog box at all. If you're lucky, your user did read the button text. –  Brian Jan 14 '13 at 16:41
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marked as duplicate by JohnGB, JonW Jan 15 '13 at 7:00

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1 Answer

Use descriptive action buttons whenever possible, every time. Take a page out of apple's book. The same button on the keyboard changes between Return, Enter, and Search depending on what's happening. Also note the 'send' button says 'send', not 'go' or 'enter'.

Search Return

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"Use descriptive action buttons whenever possible, every time" +1 –  obelia Jan 15 '13 at 1:46
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