The situation: In our application there're several actions once done that will cause the data loss or won't be able to be undone. So, we ask users whether they are sure of what they are doing before completing the action.

Which way to ask this is better?

I'm a bit lost here. The first option seems a bit excessive but the second one in its turn seems a bit abrupt.

Which style should I follow? Maybe you have some better suggestions?

Examples: 1) Are you sure you want to delete this task? You will not be able to undo this action.

2) Delete this task? You will not be able to undo this action.

Buttons: delete cancel

1) Are you sure you want to delete this post? You will not be able to undo this action.

2) Delete this post? You will not be able to undo this action.

Buttons: delete cancel

1) Are you sure you want to undo this activity? You will not be able to undo this action.

2) Undo this activity? You will not be able to undo this action.

Buttons: undo cancel

P.S. visually it would seem like what facebook has: Are you sure you...?

  • It's like picking between compromise safety for ease or compromise ease for safety. ALWAYS go with the latter in case of irreversible actions Oct 11, 2017 at 11:42
  • What kind of post makes Facebook asks this?
    – Ooker
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:19
  • 1
    Another way is to "cache" the action and play it some time later, offering an undo option in the meantime. Gmail does this for example - they allow you to configure an "undo timer" for sending emails, and "sending" the email actually starts the timer - the mail is actually sent only when that timer runs out and a notification with an undo link is displayed until then. Oct 11, 2017 at 16:57
  • 1
    One issue with simply repeating the name of the action is that it doesn't really show acknowledgement of the user's intent. Clicking the delete button and being greeted with "Delete this thing?" would annoy me -- yes, delete it, that's why I clicked the button. By adding "Are you sure you want to ..." or even just "Really ...", you show that you acknowledge my intent in clicking the button. A popup without a preceding "Are you sure you want to ..." is more appropriate when the user has not taken any action to make it appear. Oct 11, 2017 at 18:11

3 Answers 3


I would not ask the user if he's sure, i would assume he is and explain him his actions.

I like invisions approach, they even added checkboxes so they make 100% sure that if you delete you delete because you want to delete and are 100% sure what this means.

Of course for smaller actions or actions that get used frequently checkboxes could be annoying since it slows down task-completition but for more critical actions i would follow this approach.

The buttons should always display the action the user is about to do. "Yes, delete task", "Cancel, keep task"

Invisions modal when hitting "delete prototype"

  • 3
    +1 for repeating action on the buttons. I've seen too many instances of this type of safety-check where the main question is badly worded and you're not quite sure whether you're agreeing to the "bad thing" or agree that it's dangerous and you don't really want to do it.
    – TripeHound
    Oct 11, 2017 at 13:24
  • 10
    The strange thing about this one is that the "cancel" button (and the checkboxes for that matter) look greyed out. Maybe that's just a poor visual style though. It's also not at all obvious that you have to tick the checkboxes to continue.
    – Muzer
    Oct 11, 2017 at 16:35
  • 1
    Yes, maybe the confirm button should be grayed out until all boxes are checked if that's what you really want. And of course a note is necessary to tell you have to do this
    – MCMastery
    Oct 11, 2017 at 17:43
  • 2
    @muzer hell, are they even supposed to be ticked? the text seems to imply it's just a list of actions that will happen when I delete the thing. Wouldn't it be better to have something like 'remove access to share links', 'destroy all prototype comments and history', etc.?
    – Sebastianb
    Oct 11, 2017 at 20:50
  • @Sebastianb i just checked, yes they are supposed to be ticked. I agree the Delete-Button should be greyed out until they are ticked. Oct 12, 2017 at 12:15

I personally hate "are you sure"s. For example: when copying files I'll get an overwrite/skip option; if I select overwrite, I don't want to be asked if I'm sure — since it's all too easy to click "overwrite" then automatically "Yes" (because I've done that so many times). The only safe way is to make sure FIRST and THEN click overwrite — and if I do it that way, there's no need to say yes, is there?

Sometimes they'll be a "don't ask me again" message, which is nice, but what I hate even more than "are you sure" is an option to "don't ask me again" — and you don't know what you will get if you select that — don't ask me again and always overwrite, or don't ask me again and always skip. I avoid that like the plague.

There are some better examples out there, I just can't think of them at the moment.


You can use the approach Google uses. They let the user perform the action with the feedback alert on the top where the user can undo the action.

Reference image below:

Deleting an email in gmail and then undoing the action

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