1

Suppose I have a user flow (e.g. a signup flow, but the question is applicable to any flow), where there is a single path the user can take through, e.g.:

  1. Input user details
  2. Add Profile picture
  3. Find friends
  4. Join chat rooms

Each step (other than 1) is skippable, so there are two actions a user could take on each step:

  1. Next
  2. Skip

The button for Skip is easy (I think) - it just says "Skip".

The button for the "Next" action could either say "Next" for each step, or it could explicitly tell the user what the next step is, e.g.:

  1. Add Profile picture ->
  2. Find friends ->
  3. Join chat rooms ->
  4. Done

The advantages of the "Next" approach:

  • User always has the same action
  • User doesn't have to think about whether they want to take the next step until they get to it

The advantages of the explicit approach:

  • User has a very clear path and knows what's coming next

Which is better, and why?

Is there any research or data to back up either position?

3

Let me cite 2 chapters from Jeff Johnson's Designing with the mind in mind (Amazon).

  • Chapter 4 is titled "Reading is unnatural"
  • Chapter 9 is titled "Recognition is easy, recall is hard"

Regarding 4), the book gives examples and reasoning why we're not really good in reading. Therefore, using common terms and short terms is appropriate.

Regarding 9), the Next button will immediately be recognized by many people, because they have seen it on dozens of Wizards already. You can expect a next button to go through a sequence of steps in a linear way. Nobody guarantees that for a Find friends button. Will it open the Facebook website? Will it ask to access my address book? A next button does not ask such questions.

I would not add a Skip button. It's uncommon. Instead, use good default values and an indicator for mandatory fields. In that case, the next button will suffice.

You can still have the freedom of adding an alternate navigation, e.g. through a breadcrumb navigation bar, so that the user could skip multiple steps. Also, consider a back button so that the user can correct his previous data when he changes his mind.

1

Do both, show in which step the user is and use the "Next" label.

If you already have a path the user has to follow you can show the whole path to the user in every step, noting in which step he is.

User details -> Add Profile picture -> Find friends -> Join chat rooms

.

User details -> Add Profile picture -> Find friends -> Join chat rooms

.

User details -> Add Profile picture -> Find friends -> Join chat rooms

.

User details -> Add Profile picture -> Find friends -> Join chat rooms

As the user is already aware of which step he is in and which is the next step you can simply label your buttons "Confirm and go to next step" or "Skip this step"

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