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Take the classical top-left go-back button on mobile apps.

The main two issues with it are:

  • Having to press a lot of times when you want to go far back
  • Not being able to go forward in case you missed the screen you wanted to go back to

With this in mind, I'm tempted to introduce a long-press history popup on the go-back button, so the user can skip to exactly where they want.

Of course, we all know that long-press is not really intuitive.

The question: does having a tool-tip automatically introduce this feature to the user make my UX design bad?

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    I would say that having to introduce alternative behaviour isn't always indicative of poor ux design, because most design solutions are only considered within a particular context. When the requirements change, or when you have saturated the potential solutions for a given design pattern, it will be necessary to either introduce new patterns for a specific area of your application or overhaul the entire solution to take into consideration of the entire problem space. – Michael Lai Oct 27 at 0:05
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I have also been faced with this particular decision and I must admit it really is a tough one.

Having a 'long-press history popup on the go-back button so the user can skip to exactly where they want' would not make your user experience bad as long as it is presented to the user in an easy and understandable form.

The end goal is letting the user know that they can long press the back button to skip directly to a point and making the process as easy and as simplistic as possible. Asides the fact that it would also give your user experience approach a unique feel.

  • I thought of triggering the tool-tip (over a transparent dark background, for visual weight) when the user hits the go-back button 2 or 3 times in short interval. Once triggered, it would only show up again after 2 or 3 weeks, under the same circumstances. What do you think? – Seu Madruga Oct 26 at 0:19
  • [answering to his/her response which was mistakingly made in the for of an answer] I think I didn't explain well. I said that I will indicate, through a prompt, that there is a long-press feature when the user hits the back button 2-3 times in a short interval. I also said that I would reintroduce the feature after 2-3 weeks if the user had fell back into his old tap tap tap behavior, because it would be an indication they forgot they can long-press. – Seu Madruga Oct 26 at 6:29
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This is a very nice approach. However, I would suggest that for consistency, it can always be triggered by the same circumstance always. This way the user would be accustomed to the response when in such situations.

You can maybe also add a first time user prompt to give a brief description of the action when the circumstance is triggered and can add the option to disable or enable.

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    I see you are a newcomer. Replies like that should be put into the comments. Replies are only for the original question. – Seu Madruga Oct 26 at 6:15
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I seen this feature somewhere and it had a button with dropdown that contained a back arrow with the text Back and a down arrow that showed the history . This would be intuitive but for mobile it would take some space.

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It's good UX design to introduce alternative behaviors

The idea of putting a tooltip to introduce the back feature, is a user centric approach, you are making the user's life easier and thought beforehand the problems they are going to be experiencing.

Though there might be instances where the user forgets of this power feature. Are you planning to show the tooltip all the time? or for New Users?

If you are planning to push through this idea and only show the tooltip for new users, may I suggest to build on that problem.

For example, when the user has been tapping the back button consecutive times again(which means they forgot), make that a trigger to show the tooltip.

Bottomline is, I believe introducing alternative behavior is something that we should commend as we are breaking barriers and thinking of new ways in approaching problems at the same time, guiding our users. And in this case, it is important to also conduct a Usabiliity Test on how these alternatives compare to the original ones.

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I actually don't see how you concluded that it would result in a user experience that is worse.

What you described sounds a lot more like a novice vs. expert functionality to me:

Experts can require extensive features, visual clutter, and a much larger information display density than the novice. Roughly, this means that the user interface that encourages learning is not necessarily the right interface for the expert. UIs that encourage learning have open spaces, clutter reduced, and text to tell the user how to be successful; features that are contrary to what experts may want and need.

'Designing for Novices & Experts' on Medium

A user that only uses the app occasionally may not even care if he has the option to long press or not. He just knows he wants to go back and presses the arrow back.

An expert user may be using the app very frequently and, thus, wants to be able to do things efficiently. For that reason, it would actually improve the UX a lot if you included a discoverable feature that makes navigation easier.

The only critical point is to include both while not hindering the experience of either side. Meaning that the normal back button should still work as usual, but offer this "hidden" feature for users who need more.


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