I've implemented a web form for users to request a transfer or withdrawal of funds they have deposited with our service. Our financial person, who handles most finance-related customer support, is asking me to add a confirmation step -- after they submit the form, it goes to a page that displays all their choices and requires them to submit this to confirm.

I know this is a common practice at many web sites; for instance, my town's website for paying excise taxes and parking tickets has one of these confirmation pages. But I wonder if any studies have actually been done to determine how effective they are at catching and preventing submission errors. I suspect most people just glance at the page and automatically click the submit button, so they find it to be just a nuisance.

My application isn't really amenable to the "shopping cart" and "checkout" metaphor, it's just a one-time transaction. We're discontinuing a service that uses these deposited funds, so the users need to move those funds, and the form asks them where to move them to.

More specifically, the user has the following choices:

  • Move some of the funds to another type of account.
  • Withdraw the remaining funds; in this case, they have a choice between sending to a PayPal account or receiving a paper check by snail mail.

So the purpose of the confirmation step would be to ensure that they entered the move/withdraw split correctly, and that they specified the correct destination for withdrawals. We provide defaults for the destination information if we have it in our records, but we don't have this information for all customers (or if we do, it's not necessarily verified correct).

The question is: when is it appropriate to add a confirmation step in the userflow where one didn't already exist? Is there research or case studies to show when it is effective to do so, and when it is unnecessary?

  • Based on the answers provided, it seems like you might need to provide some details on why this particular request was made by the financial person (there might be some business requirements) and also if there were issues experienced when you didn't have this confirmation page in place. I think this will help provide more specific answers to your question. – Michael Lai Sep 24 '18 at 9:58
  • I've added more details. The request was made before we ever subjected the application to users, she just thought it would be a good idea. I did eventually add the step. – Barmar Sep 24 '18 at 16:37

I am sure there is some research out there. You can check Forrester or NN/g for example.

However, you are making an assumption that people don't review their data. :) Do a quick usability test and see what happens. I would expect it for any financial transaction. Also, how easy is it to undo the action? Not being able to easily undo something makes it more likely you need a review step.

  • Yes, I'm making an assumption. The reason our financial person wants this is because "people are idiots". I agree, but I suspect that this idiocy extends to not reviewing carefully. Could you provide a link to the references you said I should check? I'm not really familiar with the research literature in this domain. – Barmar Jul 26 '18 at 0:18
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    It's a percentages game... Having a confirmation page will give some users a chance to stop and think (I know I've gone "oops" in a mobile banking app, and appreciated the chance to correct things). Some users probably will "just click OK", but at least you've reduced the percentage of "wrong transactions" by a factor. – TripeHound Jul 26 '18 at 12:35
  • The question for us is whether the percentage is worth the development effort for an application that will only be used once. – Barmar Jul 26 '18 at 14:44
  • @Barmar I hadn't spotted the "one-time transaction"... in that case, my gut would be to say "yes" it probably is worth it, because users will never have had a chance to become familiar with the preceding screen, so double-checking is probably worthwhile. If the "where to move [the funds] to" is potentially new information (instead of say, confirming details already in the system), then I'd be even more in favour of a confirmation screen (error could send the money to the wrong place). – TripeHound Jul 26 '18 at 15:17
  • @Barmar nngroup.com/reports, forrester.com/search – Julia D Jul 27 '18 at 1:21

Besides users reading or not reading, anything money related requires trust from the user and feeling of control. Confirmation screens help to creating this safe and under control feeling. The psychological part of this is really important, if users don't trust the financial firm, they'll choose a different one. Besides this, you may run into some legal issues by not exposing information in front of users. You should check with the legal department which terms applies to the region you design this for.

  • This is a good point, and probably a big reason why many sites do it. There's also a CYA aspect: the more chances you give the user to catch their mistakes, the less they can blame you when they do something wrong. – Barmar Jul 26 '18 at 14:45
  • Our regular purchase application doesn't have a confirmation screen, and we've been OK with it for many years. I think they took this opportunity to ask for it because it's a new application, although a temporary one-off. Annoyingly, they asked for this change after I'd already finished writing it. – Barmar Jul 26 '18 at 14:49

sounds like a standard pattern: review order (1st confirm) > proceed to payment > confirm payment (2nd confirm)

If you're suggesting something like review order > proceed to payment > confirm payment > confirm confirm payment that's just plain stupid.

  • In this particular application, it's not a purchase. It's actually withdrawing money from the account, and there are options for the withdrawal method (transfer to another type of account, send check by snail mail, deposit in PayPal account). So it's just one confirmation of the options. – Barmar Sep 24 '18 at 16:29
  • ah OK, sounds like my banking app. I select recipient to transfer to > enter amount > then one of two things happens: either I'm asked to enter my password to confirm the payment OR there's a continue button after which is a final confirmation – colmcq Sep 25 '18 at 8:35

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