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I'm working UX on an app that includes user-initiated diagnostics. Some of the diagnostics complete after a moment or two, others often take several seconds to minutes.

In the current version of the app, only the tests tending to have a duration more than a few seconds include a control to abort the test. The "fast" tests just have button to begin testing.

I have two questions...

1) I'm considering tightening up layout and reducing the number of controls by suggesting the removal of "Abort" buttons and having the "Start" button change to an "Abort" button after the diagnostic begins. I'm concerned about causing confusion or disorientation by having a control's function (and the attendant styling) change in the UI. I'd like input. Maybe this behaviour only makes sense if I really want to simplify layout, i.e., for small-screens.

2) If I go with keeping both buttons on the longer-duration tests, how advisable might it be to standardize the diagnostic controls by having all tests have both Start and Abort buttons?

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This will depend, do you want the tests to be aborted fast or not?

Adding an extra button forces the user to move the mouse (or finger) to a different part of the layout. This has an important implication which is that it is not possible to Start+Abort fast. Depending on the purpose of the app this might be something good or bad. I wouldn't be much concern about changing the button from Start to Abort, media players do the same with the Pause/Play button. Just make sure the user appreciates there is some change in the button (thus the action is different).

If the user won't be able to tap the Abort button because the test lasts a very short period of time, then I don't think there is need to display the button.

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