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I am designing an app with some forms. I have looked at other Cocoa apps to see how they handle the submission of forms. Some apps don't have a submit button and update their backing datastore (or whatever) when, say, a control loses focus or a window is closed. Other's however use a submit button. Is there a rule or heuristic for when to use a submit button and when not?

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  • From my personal perspective, I don't like that google calendar don't have a save button, when you adding more notifications. I always reopen it to check if it saved the changes. I know it did, but I stil have to check.
    – Ada
    Jun 21 '19 at 16:06
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    For anyone stumbling over this later on: this question discusses the topic of auto-save and has a few discussions worth reading.
    – Big_Chair
    Sep 2 '19 at 11:28
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Anything that makes the user be afraid or have any doubt is a bad thing for UX and conversion rate.

As the biggest part of formularies has a submit button is natural the user expect it. Then if you don't have you will lose submissions.

But if you truly believe that your formulary doesn't need a button because it's a special formulary with unnormal usability and your user don't expect it you should try to remove the button but do it and measure to compare.

P.S.: If you try to convince me that the form doesn't need a submit button, you will rarely do it because I still thinking strange don't have a save button on a Google Docs.

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I feel the need to add an answer as the concept in concern behind this post is relevant but there have been some updates to the UX design since September 2019.

Some survey forms do not have submit button and Google docs still do not have the Save button, but users like myself have gotten so used to the autosave feature that MS office applications started implementing them (see link).

screenshot from Google Docs showing the Save cloud icon

It's just like how users associate the floppy disk icon as Save button, we would associate the cloud icon as an autosave icon.

Routing back to the question, it is important to fulfil 2 important heuristics when using autosave feature:

  1. to give users the assurance that a save has occured (feedback)
  2. to allow users to undo changes that have been saved (backdoor to undo a mistake)

And unfortunately most of the surveys I took without the submit button often gives me the shock that I have completed and submitted the survey. And that if I wanted to undo some answers that I have given, I was not able to do so. I haven't seen one yet (but hopefully to see soon) one survey that warn users that they have reached the final question and that proceeding next will submit all responses to the system.

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