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What is the important aspect to consider when deciding where windows interaction buttons should be placed?

I've been seeing a lot of modal windows lately, some which have the close button in the top right, some which have them on the top left. My guess is that this is because Windows has it in the top right and OS X has it in the top left. What are the best practices for the location of this button? Should it vary based on OS? Or should it consistently be in the top right/top left?


Sounds like you are talking about a web page? Trying to imagine another environment where such details are left to the designer/programmer.

I would tend to put it on the right. Granted, I mostly use MS Windows, but most cursors lean to the left, so it'd cover less content when hovering over the close button. Also, as most people are right-handed, the cursor is often slid to the right to remove it from view. If a popup were to appear, there would generally be less distance to cover to close it.

As always, I imagine it would depend on the exactly what effect you are trying to achieve and who your audience is.

  • Yes, I meant website, for a generic modal window. I'm not sure exactly what you mean about the cursor being "slid to the right". In fact, putting the button on the left moves the button closer to view, especially following design patterns for how users view a page (left to right, top to bottom)
    – nsheaps
    Aug 31 '12 at 20:45
  • True. I'm just going on anecdotal evidence, but most users I've encountered tend to move the cursor toward the right when they are reading a web page, etc. Especially since that's the most common location of the scroll bar. Really, though, it's mostly a toss-up in my opinion.
    – JDB
    Aug 31 '12 at 20:49
  • Would it be a bad practice to move it based on OS so the close button is consistently in the same place (OS X would have it top left, windows would have it top right)?
    – nsheaps
    Aug 31 '12 at 20:50
  • Seems like a lot of work. Do you see a benefit? I don't. As long as the button is clearly marked, I think users are used to it being in either position.
    – JDB
    Aug 31 '12 at 20:52
  • It was more a question of curiosity than anything else. And it might not necessarily be extra work if you can wrap the entire page in a class that indicates the os (similar to the way some people do it for IE) and target CSS selectors to change based on the OS
    – nsheaps
    Aug 31 '12 at 20:59

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