I'm having trouble deciding if an app should show a message when the user presses the back button while he/she is leaving.

See image below showing how 9gag does this (note the "Press back again to leave" message at bottom).

I am concerned this could be annoying for some people, but I'm aware that others might press the back button too often and leave the page by mistake.

Can anyone refer me to any research or sources that cover this type of UX scenario?

I'm interested in what is considered best practice in these types of situations.

1 Answer 1


This is a good question but I am afraid the answers are going to be opinionated. My answer is based on my experiences with various apps.

When a two-step exit is helpful

  • On feed-based apps that don't/can't retain the current scroll position

    • 9gag is actually a funny example as it does retain the scroll position. So, an accidental exit isn't as detrimental. However, Instagram is very inconsistent with the ordering of its posts and it doesn't retain the scroll position so I'd love to see a two-step exit on it.
  • On apps that don't have well-defined home screens.

    • There are quite a few apps that do not have a widely acceptable home screen. So, the users might press back hoping to go back to what they think was the home screen. In that case, the warning would be very helpful.
  • Payment based apps

    • Not just for exiting the app in itself but backing out of a transaction screen could also have repercussions. So, a warning would be a good UX addition

When a two-step exit is not helpful

  • Static and auto-refresh apps

    • In a static app, there's no penalty if you exit the app accidentally
    • In auto-refresh apps like sports app with live scores, chronological news feed and timers (with background threads), the updates would be time-based. So, you can always hop back in without losing any data
  • Autosave and information logging apps

    • I used to have a water drinking reminder app which made me tap back twice to exit. Why?! I wish I knew
  • In addition to payment based app, I would add any "long forms" screens that doesn't store user unsubmited values.
    – Brice
    Nov 15, 2019 at 9:38
  • First, thanks for the great answer! Well this app it's about movies like imdb, it's static, but it doesn't have a well-defined homepage...I'm still in doubt :/
    – user120504
    Nov 15, 2019 at 10:53
  • I'd recommend having a "central" screen. Basically, a screen that shows up when the user opens the app from a closed state. Try and navigate the user back to that screen when they hit the back button. And from there, closing the app won't require a confirmation Nov 15, 2019 at 17:47

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