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I am designing a recipe page that can be accessed in two different ways:

  1. The favorite section on the homepage has the user’s favorite recipes. Pressing on the recipe name will take the user to the corresponding recipe page.

    [Homepage - favorite section] > [The recipe]

  2. In the navigation bar, there is a tab called All Recipes, which stores recipes saved by the user.

    [All Recipes] > [The recipe]

When the user is in the recipe page, there will be a back button on top of the screen to exit. And my question is, where should the back button on the page navigate to?

If the user gets to the recipe page from the favorite section in the homepage, then the back button should go back to the homepage. But if the user gets to the recipe page from the All Recipe tab, then the back button should go back to the All Recipes tab?

Is that confusing?

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Yes, the Back button should take the users BACK to where they were. This is true whether it’s the Back button on the browser or a button labeled “Back” within a web page. This is not confusing. The button does what it says it does. What would be confusing would be going “back” to somewhere the users hasn’t been. “Back” does not mean “upward in the information hierarchy.”

Functionally, think of a Back button as analogous to a Cancel (or Close) button in a dialog box. It’s for reverting the user to the previous content. This is an important function to save users that got somewhere they don’t want to be any more (and maybe don’t know/ forgot how they got there) and so they need to get back. Don’t mess with it.

Of course, in addition to the Back button, you can (and probably should) have other navigation controls to go to All Recipes and Home. This could be through an “upward” button, like found in MS Windows Explorer, but it’s less ambiguous if they’re simply text links for “All Recipes” and “Home” (although the latter could be the web site’s logo in the upper left as is conventional). These links could be integrated into the breadcrumbs in your navigation bar. Whether these links go Back or not is no matter. They do what they say they'll do.

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  • That's what my intuition told me too, but my 2 PMs told me going back to where users were is not always the case. So I wasn't sure if I was right. Thanks for your reply, it helps a lot :))
    – Ring
    Commented Jul 11 at 1:40

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