1. A user is about to delete a crucial object with no undo.
  2. The designer puts an "Are you sure?" modal confirmation.
  3. The user says "Yeah yeah yeah do it"
  4. Immediately the user regrets his/her decision and panics.

Clearly Undo would be great. But sometimes that is impractical.


  • What public usability studies are there on this topic?
  • Do users REALLY think about the question or do they just click Yes without thinking?

Thank you.

  • Not really an answer to your question (hence the comment), but GitLab has a nice way of making sure that users have to think about the question before confirming it: docs.gitlab.com/ee/user/project/img/… May 29, 2020 at 6:15
  • Webflow also follows a similar approach like the one mentioned by @QWERTZdenker What I have found is when I have to type something to actually delete a project, sometimes I will not go ahead and take the action to delete it. I might realize its better not to delete it. As humans we are irrational at times. You might get in touch with someone at Webflow and see if they have data on this. May 29, 2020 at 6:58
  • Assuming that your UX is consistent, what you want here is to make it behave differently from its usual behavior. If you usually put the generic "ok/yes/continue" button in the right corner, this time move it to the left and make it red on mouse hover. It will be harder to click without thinking. Optionally do this to the option that requires such confirmation. May 29, 2020 at 7:59
  • @trollingchar While I agree a change to layout can help, it's important to not just "swap the buttons around" (it isn't clear if that is what you are suggesting or not). The problem with swapping them around is the same logic, they may instinctively click what would normally be "cancel" and ending up confirm the delete by mistake.
    – musefan
    May 29, 2020 at 14:37
  • I don't think you can resolve the problem of "user regret". regardless of what your UI does or says, they have still made the decision to delete the object, and with no "undo" feature, this is simply: "tough luck, user".
    – musefan
    May 29, 2020 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


This pattern is often called friction. Below is an excerpt from the article Friction in UX design can be benificial, by Mia Sheffields:

Friction in UX design is when something in the design slows the user down or makes it hard for them to accomplish their task. This can be a pop-up advising a user to sign up for a newsletter, an empty state page, or an “Are you sure you want to delete this” message. Although this sounds like a bad thing, in some cases, it can actually improve the user experience. Friction can increase cognitive load to improve the outcome of actions.

When used improperly, friction can hinder the customer experience and sometimes cause users to abandon a site. For example, if users are leaving items unpurchased in a cart you should make sure that it’s not a hassle to go through the checkout process. Use friction when it’s necessary for user’s best interests. Friction in UX design can be beneficial for extra security reasons and when users are about to complete a serious action.

A Google search returns many articles that explains the pattern with examples from real products, for example Designing Friction For A Better User Experience.

We can add friction to prevent errors, which is one of Jakob Nielsen's 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design.

We can also add friction to influence user behaviour, in accordance with Nudge theory.

Harvard researchers found that products with a long waiting time can be perceived as more trustworthy than products with a short waiting time. This phenomenon is called The Labor Illusion.

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