I'm having a configuration GUI, and want to enable the user to export the settings into a file and load that file later (or on a different computer). My dialog has several options, and is rather small: enter image description here
On the bottom I have 3 buttons, where I combine the Import and Export as a single button. Based on the file selection, I choose wheter the user wanted to Export (non-existing file) or Import (existing file).

Is this intuitive/clear behaviour for such a button?

EDIT: After reading the responses, I redesigned the GUI and put the Import... and Export... functions in the menu-bar in the 'File' section (Importing and Exporting aren't the main storage methods, the tool holds the current set of settings). I've also rearranged options: enter image description here

  • 4
    as a suggestion for improvement on the screen, could fix the alignment of fields also :D
    – Xosler
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 11:17
  • 3
    Since your last edit, consider this: * Do not put a menu bar inside a dialog. * Do not use a question mark inside a checkbox' label * "Issue resolved" and "Issue Mention" should ident to the right, so that you can see those options are only in case or issue tracking is enabled * Use better, more descriptive labels for "Issue Resolved" and "Issue Mention". I believe these labels should also end with a colon. (See MS user experience Interaction Guidelines msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa511258.aspx) * OK and cancel button must be on same height and right aligned. Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 6:51

6 Answers 6


It's confusing to users, unless he knows the rule of the button, I'm looking at the screen, without the information that you wrote really know don't what to do.

You could have two buttons (import and export), or when you click Import / Export to open another window with a field and a button to import and a field and a button to export, if you have more options for importing and exporting, may be separated by panels.


It is very confusing. At least to me it is. It seems you are trying to make things simpler by removing a button, but you are in fact making things harder because the remaining button has a behaviour wich is hard to predict.

Also consider the following situation:

  1. I fill in a bunch of settings
  2. Then I want to export those settings
  3. So I click "Import/Export"
  4. Now I want to choose an existing file, and overwrite that one with my new settings


What will happen? My settings will be lost.

Seeing this dalog, the following advice I like to give you:

  1. Use separate buttons for import and export
  2. Optionally, put the import button above the settings, export underneath it.
  3. (Please, take care of alignment of UI elements.)

When you need to use any of these things on a button's caption, there is something wrong:

  • /
  • or

It is the application's duty to make clear what the buttons does, not the user's duty to find out by trying.


No - it's almost like getting a dialog that asks a question and just has an OK button.

You (the program) knows what that button is supposed to do depending on some setting (either in this dialog or elsewhere). Only show that option.

If the button is going to perform an import based on some setting(s), it should say "Import..." (the ellipses because there is additional input required by the user beyond pressing the button).

If the button is going to perform an export based on some setting(s), it should say "Export..." (the ellipses because there is additional input required by the user beyond pressing the button).

If it isn't going to do either, hide it.

Users should never have to guess what is going to happen when they interact with the user interface, especially in a pop-up dialog.


I'm assuming what you're importing and exporting are the settings that the user can specify within the form. Right now your dialog doesn't do a good job of explaining to the user that they don't need to populate those fields if they're importing a settings file.

Have you thought about moving the functionality of the Import feature to a filepicker field within the form? You could then add a radio button to enable each group - the one you currently have mocked up in your question and the filepicker one. Then you just need an export button which can be selectively enabled and disabled based on validation of the main group's fields.

  • 2
    Your first sentence exactly describes the issue - you have to make an assumption on the functionality. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 16:14

Looking at your example it does look a little confusing. My suggestion would be to have context specific buttons. So if the user has selected an existing file the button says import and if its a new file export.

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