Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm working in some workflows, and we've caught a number of possible exceptions (before actually implementing) that might allow the user to correct their actions.

We're debating between just sending the users back to correct the problem with the use of a traditional Warning Dialog:

mockup showing alert dialog with this text: This happened. If you continue, these are the possible consequences. Click OK to continue or Cancel to abort.

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Or allowing them to complete the operation with a forgiving warning dialog:

mockup showing alert dialog with this text: This happened. If you choose to continue, these are the possible consequences. Click OK to Continue or Cancel to abort. However, we identified this exception, so you can successfully complete the action by clicking Fix and Complete.

download bmml source

a) Is there a name for this kind of pattern?

b) Are there any design considerations that should be taken?

c) When would it be appropriate to use this?

d) How many options are too many options?

share|improve this question
    
Out of interest, why would a user choose "OK" as opposed to "Fix and Complete" in your second example? What problem does that solve? –  Kit Grose May 27 '13 at 23:43
    
It's a way to enable the deferred choice pattern. The user might want to correct a specific issue at a later time. Have a read here, workflowpatterns.com/patterns/control/state/wcp16.php As I said before. –  edgarator May 28 '13 at 0:18

2 Answers 2

First, the guidelines of Microsoft about messages is really informative and helpful.

One example for a confirmation message, where several options are possible, is the duplicate file copying message (see below). See how each option is associated with its respectable consequences, and it's relatively easy to choose between them.

In general, allowing users to "recover" from the error without going back is good for usability (see also the "Save/Discard/Cancel" messages of closing an unsaved document). Making users go back to do something is very disturbing, as I personally saw in usability tests. I think it's because users need to remember what they need to fix, which loads their working memory. This is in addition to the frown of not being able to proceed. This is why it is encouraged to provide a "recovery option" (you may also adopt this name for the pattern).

An even better solution would be to prevent this kind of error in the first place. This can be achieved by providing the warning message inside the screen or form the produced it, before the "Continue" button was click. Another solution is inline validation.

Regarding the "too many options", I don't like any absolute rules. The only rule that is always true is "It depends". Three options might be OK, if they are not very complicated or overwhelming. Also, it depends how much patience your users have, and how critical is the operation.

duplicate file copying message

On a side note, your unforgiving message is confusing, since it reads "cancel to abort", which might be interpreted as "erase all my previous work, and abandon whatever I was doing", although you just meant "go back to previous screen and fix something".

share|improve this answer
    
I was just writing a general purpose message with no specific thing in mind. Like a place holder. –  edgarator May 27 '13 at 5:18
1  
I hope you took from my answer more advice than just this side comment :) –  Dvir Adler May 27 '13 at 5:30
    
I did! I also wanted to get the question across in the best way possible. :) –  edgarator May 27 '13 at 6:13

Few thoughts:

  • I would like to use 2 buttons at most.

  • Encourage user to continue on the flow instead of cancelling. Because of that reason I have kept "Continue" more visible than Cancel.

  • Regarding how many are too many.. I would say 2 are too many so try to keep the option down to 1 to the levels possible. Even when you have two, pick one as "Recommended One".

I am suggesting to use two buttons model which is the easiest model for the users to understand and doesn't compromise on usability. The mental model with 3 buttons is complex because you can cancel, but other than cancelling, you still have two ways to choose from and two paths create 1) confusion 2) burden to make a decision 3) fear of being wrong 4) keeps a thought running in your head that alternate also exists even when you are moving along one path. Two buttons give impression that you are only going along one path and reaching closer to your goals

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Why only two buttons? –  edgarator May 27 '13 at 5:00
1  
Two buttons is good because you know there is only one way forward which you can choose to continue over and you can continue with or without fixing the error. Simple. The mental model with 3 buttons is complex because you can cancel, but other than cancelling, you still have two ways to choose from and two paths create 1) confusion 2) burden to make a decision 3) fear of being wrong 4) keeps a thought running in your head that alternate also exists even when you are moving along one path. Two buttons give impression that you are only going along one path and reaching closer to your goals. –  Salman May 28 '13 at 2:08
    
Just the concept of going one way forward worked perfectly for me. You should update your answer with that. –  edgarator May 28 '13 at 4:20
    
Hey do you realize that @dvir-alder answer has three options and a cancel button? –  edgarator May 30 '13 at 23:54
    
Yes mate I have seen that but it is hard to find a UX designer who is Fan of Microsoft because of its UX. There are few things wrong with this 3+1 dialogue 1)Overloaded with content 2) Difficult to visually scan and always demands attention 3)Dialogue has unreasonable option, like "don't copy" which is the same as "cancel" and you also have yet another [X] cross button on the top 4) "Copy but keep both files" is unasked for and would create data-redundancy and confusion in the long run. –  Salman May 31 '13 at 5:22

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.