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In our platform, we're currently implementing a new 'copy' functionality for forms. There's a list of forms and a copy icon on the right that a user clicks - a message appears asking the user if they're sure they want to copy. When the user clicks ok, what page would they expect to be on?

Context : our pages are headlined 'Create Form' or 'Edit Form', they look identical apart from the name. Would a user expect to be on the create form page with the details already there or the edit form page? Or should be create a page which is headlined 'Copy Form'.

  • Please describe the intend (user's goal) of action copy form. What could be alternative names for this action, what for the result? I understand the form as User-Input in a web-page. An image helps clarifying. – hc_dev Dec 17 '19 at 6:40
  • It seems that "copy" makes a duplicate of the form, allowing you to edit it, right? Could you explain a little why Create would even be an option? – Ken Mohnkern Dec 20 '19 at 16:02
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  1. I think an image showing what you want might help users here on stackexchange understand the problem.
  2. As far as I understand your problem: The user would expect to not change the page:
    • User clicks "copy"
    • A dialog asks "do you really want to copy"
    • User clicks "yes"
    • Dialog message disappears

Comparing to other general copy mechanisms: "Copy" does not change the view itself. "Paste" might. But copy doesn't.

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  • Totally agree: an image helps to clarify the question. You tried to paraphrase the question in order to show navigation flow. But still the concrete use-case is unclear. – hc_dev Dec 17 '19 at 6:43
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There are multiple different interpretations of "copy" that systems use, and which one is correct will depend on the expectations of your users.

Option 1: Copy as part of a copy/paste pair of actions. The user is expecting to paste the copied form somewhere after they take the copy action. Traditionally, most systems do not offer any visual feedback that a copy has happened (except for maybe flashing the Edit menu if you have one).

Option 2: Copy as a single action for duplication. The user is expecting to see a second copy of the original form appear next to the original or somewhere else contextually relevant. This is often called "Duplicate" to make it distinct from option 1, but if it is the only Copy action available, users won't be too surprised this is what it does, especially if they get immediate feedback (which option 1 lacks).

Option 3: Copy as part of creating a new document. When creating a new form, the system may allow users to start with a copy of one that already exists rather than starting from scratch. Their expectations are probably around making revisions as quickly and easily as possible, so you should accommodate that.

Doing some usability tests with a few of your actual users should be enough to determine what their needs are around copying, and which option their mental model is expecting. Or your system could support all three types of copying (with clear labels) and then you can meet user expectations no matter what they are.

Additional note: As long as your system allows unwanted forms to be deleted, you probably don't need a prompt confirming the copy action, regardless of what it actually does. Accidental clicks are not that common and are less dangerous than a user that has been trained to accept any "Are you sure?" prompts without reading them.

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