In one of the applications I'm working on, I have a ListBox that presents a set of files to the user. The purpose of the program is to do some kind of processing on these files. I need the user's input during parts of the processing, otherwise I would just totally automate the thing that not bother the user at all. In any case, to begin processing a file, the user must double-click on one of the entries in the ListBox. When it's done, the entry is removed automatically.

The only other control in my form is a Done button, to indicate to the user that they're "done." Clicking it just closes out the form, so perhaps it's not really necessary at all, but not putting in a button sort of breaks our "pattern." In most of our other applications that have a ListBox, we also have at least two buttons; a Print button to print off the results (because the results are other pieces of data that were compiled as part of a report) and a Cancel button that closes out the form for the user. However, I don't feel that a Print/Cancel or even an OK/Cancel button combination is appropriate here (the user isn't going to need a report of the files to process). Really all the user can do is either process a file or leave the form.

But now I'm being told that the Done button is confusing to our users, and that I need to redesign it somehow. I was asked as to why I didn't use some kind of OK/Cancel combo, but as I just explained it didn't make any sense in the context of this form.

I'm really not sure what to type into Google to research this very specific problem, so I thought I'd get the StackOverflow community's opinion. If I have a form with a list that can be double-clicked to do some work on an individual item, what else (if anything) does the form need? What should I use in place of Done button? Is double-clicking in the list even the best option? If the user didn't know that they're suppose to double-click in the list to begin a process, how would I convey to them that they must do so? What would be the most user-intuitive approach to take in this given context?


If there's something to be done on the items selected in the list box, include a button with a caption that reads "Process Selected Items"

If the dialog just needs to be closed, use an OK button. That's what people are used to seeing. If it's readily apparent to the user what action will be taken when the dialog is closed, and the user needs the ability to abort the action, use an OK/Cancel pair.

  • Okay, I'll try that. But just to get your opinion, should I use the wording "OK" for the other button? I feel as though our users might be more used to the "Cancel" button closing things out.
    – Matt
    Aug 30 '12 at 17:37
  • 1
    If the cancel button is a potential problem, ask for verification: "You selected some items for processing, are you sure you want to cancel?" Aug 30 '12 at 17:45
  • You wouldn't happen to know offhand some programs that have this, do you? Apparently my interpretation of your words isn't good enough, I'm expected to cough up example pictures from Google. :/
    – Matt
    Aug 30 '12 at 18:00
  • If you're getting that much pushback, just use an OK/Cancel pair with confirmation message boxes. That's the "standard" way of doing it anyway. The OK button will process the selected items, the Cancel button will not. Aug 30 '12 at 19:06

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