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There is a discussion right now in the Magento community about whether canceling a PayPal checkout modal should be communicated to the user as a success or failure. This same question could also apply to other payment methods that take the user outside the immediate context of the checkout to approve payment, such as Google or Apple Pay.

The arguments for each are:

Sucesss: "You requested me to interrupt the payment operation, so I've done that for you"

Error: "The order was not was not placed successfully, which is a failure"

My argument there is that the type of message needs to be determined within the broader context of the checkout intent, inclining towards it being an error. However, I and most others in the discussion are devs/engineers primarily, so I'm hoping for some input from UX designers.

(For context, Magento uses different presentational styles for success and error messages, with the third possibility of a neutral "notice" as well.)

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    I think this might depend on how you implement the checkout workflow for your e-commerce site. If you allow the user to continue with another form of payment and complete the transaction (using another payment method), then you have two different interactions that you can indicate the status for (cancel PayPal method and complete payment transaction), whereas if you jump out of the payment transaction completely then it will be confusing to the user as to whether the previous action (of cancelling the payment option) was successful or not, and if the checkout flow restarts again. – Michael Lai Jul 27 '20 at 1:21
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Your lead question specifically asks if cancellation is a success or an error. It's neither one.

Cancellation is simply something you should notify the user of in a neutral way. I didn't see it at first, but way at the bottom you mentioned there is a neutral "notice" option. It is the one you should use.

With that, here are the 3 types of messages and when to use them...

Success Message is used when the user has successfully made a purchase. This isn't the case you are asking for but I mention it because this is when you would use it.

Notice Message is used if the user cancels the payment. You're simply informing them in a neutral way that payment entry was cancelled. This is neither success or is it an error.

Error Message is used when the payment system has an error of some kind. This should be a pretty rare case because this means the payment system itself has failed. Note that things like payment rejection by PayPal is not an error state, and communications about this should be handled by PayPal, not the store.

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  • Yes, agree that we should look at it in terms of the user. However, this is not a matter of cancelling an order after it is already placed. That scenario is much clearer. This is a matter of cancelling a payment method initiated during checkout. So there's a subprocess that is being successfully canceled, which interferes with the success of the larger process (placing the order). Given short user attention, either a "success" or a "failure" could be confusing since both are true in different senses. – Scott Buchanan Jul 27 '20 at 17:23
  • I didn't see at first there was a third "notice" option, so edited my answer quite a bit. Your lead question specifically asks if success or error is best, but in truth neither is. But "notice" is perfect. – Tim Holt Jul 29 '20 at 17:54
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If the user issues an instruction for the order to be cancelled, then "success" means its been cancelled.

A "failure" means that the order hasn't been carried out.

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