I identified as the most preferrable strategy for user not to lose their data implementation of confirmation/discard dialog when exiting original one.

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I expect a few more form dialogs to emerge in the app though, for example editing of the profile.

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Nielsen Norman Group's research supports the use of confirmation dialogs, but they also point out not to overuse them, so they do not lose significance (see https://www.nngroup.com/articles/confirmation-dialog/). I feel the same, I don't want to add Confirmation/Discard dialog everywhere. I believe if 'post' is going to be the most significant part of the application, it makes sense to put a confirmation/discard dialog there, but I feel less positive about putting it also on profile editing.

My question therefore is, assuming that we do not want to use confirmation/discard dialogs everywhere in the app, what's the preferred strategy for the rest of the forms/dialogs?

This is what I can't decide about:

  1. User can close dialog accidentally, open it again, but realizing that they lost their editing and data - getting annoyed.
  2. User can close the dialog as an act of discarding, but after a moment opening it again, expecting original data, but seeing the last uncommitted changes from the previous editing - getting confused.

What could be the ratio of these two scenarios occurring?

I noticed that most of the big web platforms do not preserve changes in their secondary (in terms of importance) dialogs. I wonder if it is based on a UX decision or if it makes just more sense in their scaled implementation.

For more context: Esc, Click on overlay/backdrop, and Close button (that I am yet to put everywhere) do close the dialogs.

  • 2
    I'm more worried that "DELETE ACCOUNT" is so readily available when you're just trying to update you bio. "Oh shoot, I have a typo, I'll just delete my account instead of correcting it."
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 4, 2021 at 21:01
  • Yes... good point. Aware of that. For now you are going to be prompted with reauthentication/confirmation upon clicking, still it's not good to keep in the view like that - agreed. Will have to find another place for it
    – optimista
    Mar 4, 2021 at 21:27
  • 1
    "User can close the dialog as an act of discarding" - just be clear about how you've implemented it. Have one button to hide the dialog (temporarily), have another button to discard the edit.
    – Bergi
    Mar 5, 2021 at 2:04
  • 1
    @MonkeyZeus Imo, having an option to delete you account (and presumably deleting all your data) is a fantastic thing. Obviously it shouldn't delete in one click (pwd re-auth, 2FA, maybe grace period too), but having it right there is the partial epitome of what GDPR was created for. Mar 5, 2021 at 9:44
  • @DavidWheatley GDPR was created so that users are encouraged to delete their data. I haven't read it but I would imagine that it just states that the ability to delete your data should be achievable.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Mar 5, 2021 at 15:56

3 Answers 3


I agree confirmation/discard dialog should not be overused. A good practise which I follow is to use such dialog in case of any loss of data. In your case I would suggest any action that closes the page with uncommitted changes should show the dialog box and discard should clear any changes made.

I would not recommend having uncommitted changed state since it will lead to unnecessary confusion as well as an overhead for the developers.


I far prefer encountering 2 to 1. StackExchange is a great example of work being saved when a New Post page is exited, and I am very grateful for it. I wish more sites adopted it, then I wouldn't have to deal with the frustratingly common situation of losing hours' worth of work to a session timeout or accidental quit.

I don't have research to support this, but I can't see anyone preferring their halfway-done work to be wiped. Confusion is far less of an issue than loss.

If you are very concerned about confusing users, you could banner "Last time, you quit before completing the form. We saved your work, but if you would like to reset all fields click [here]." Or to reduce text, "[clear]"


Yes, the X icon is commonly recognized by users to mean either to cancel or to close, but distinguishing between the two possibilities is critical for the success of the interaction.*

In your case it's better to avoid having this close button (X) in the corner.

To avoid losing users’ work, systems need to determine the user’s intent — cancel or close — and provide clear options.*


So that confirmation dialog sounds like a good idea, but it is only a solution to a problem that doesn't actually exist. You just have to place the cancel and save button next to each other. This way there is no extra step needed, all possible actions are clearly presented and there is no ambiguity:

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  • Agreed. Thank you for reminding on this. I find it more reasonable without close button too. I wonder, in the effort to narrow (and clarify) user's options between only Cancel / Post, would it be a good idea to disable closing the dialog on clicking the backdrop/overlay as well or should effects of such action be the same as cancelling?
    – optimista
    Mar 4, 2021 at 18:20

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