We're desigining an application for creating personalized photo books through a Flash-based interface. When the application first opens, we display a dialog encouraging the user to give their project a name (if they don't, it just gets a default name). This dialog also indicates that we auto-save their work each time they change pages or if they start a new book.
In our current book applciation, we've also had the auto save feature but users were often unaware that the application was saving. So, in addition to the message in the dialog, in the new app we're also using a dynamic Save button state - when it's saving, the label changes to "Saving..." and for a few seconds after a successful save, it displays "Your work has been saved...".
We've done some usability testing and have started a small beta test and have found that users are confused by the difference between the Save button that's part of the main application toolbar and the "Save and Exit" link that's part of the utility nav (incl Help | Feedback | Start New Book). Surprisingly, they are often noticing the link before the button and then wondering how they can save without exiting.
I've thought that maybe removing the word Save from the "Save and Exit" label could be better. I think we added it originally because we were concerned that users would worry that their work would not be saved. However, we could present a saving indicator after they click the Exit link.
So, my question to all of you is what your thoughts on how to properly distinguish between the action of Saving and staying in place versus Saving and Exiting? Of course, the classic template for this is the difference between Apply and Save, but in my experience, very few users understand the difference.