Is it useful/sensible to display a 'Refresh' button on a website's page (simple page, not dialog!), like the picture below?

enter image description here

First I thought it's a good idea, but know I start to think it's not so good, because the users should (?) know how to refresh their browser-pages (both desktop and mobile).

Or is it better to provide them more and more buttons to perform actions like a 'normal' application?

In this case the 'Refresh' button reloads the full page and not just some part of it.

  • I think it depends on the use-case in question and to be honest I couldn't come up with a use-case that justifies an additional 'refresh' button. Your example is IMHO a horrible piece of UI where I strongly believe that the session should have silently recovered itself and the application should have continued working.
    – Bazzz
    Dec 20 '12 at 13:56
  • Thanks for your comment, unfortunately the current scenario is more complex than just simply recover the session silently :/
    – Csabi
    Dec 20 '12 at 14:01
  • Yes I understand that, I was just saying that I couldn't come up with a use-case that justifies another refresh button, and the example that you give is in my opinion not justified either because technically that screen shouldn't exist. Perhaps your use-case in fact justifies a second refresh button. So that's why I say "it depends on the use-case". Can you describe your use-case a little better?
    – Bazzz
    Dec 20 '12 at 14:05
  • 1
    @Csabi On my desktop, I can just hit the Refresh button or press F5 to refresh the page. On my phone, I have to tap or swipe to open the menu, then tap Refresh to actually refresh the page. Adding a button makes it easier to refresh the page.
    – Rob W
    Dec 20 '12 at 14:11
  • 2
    Unrelated, but I would consider minor grammatical changes to the error message. You do not need any commas. Consider this message: "Your session has timed out. Please click the "Refresh" button to reload the page."
    – Andrew
    Dec 20 '12 at 14:53

Yes, include the refresh button.

It is likely that the action of refreshing the page is the most likely scenario once this screen has been triggered. Even though the user may very likely know how to refresh the page, most users will have to think for a second before hitting the Refresh button (or F5).

You can justify including the refresh button with these heuristics:

  1. Recognition rather than recall - You are making the action of refresh visible instead of requiring the user to think about how to perform the action.
  2. Flexibility and efficiency of use - Even for advanced users, having the refresh button may speed them up.
  3. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors - The error message paired with the button helps the user understand what happened and log back in.
  • I agree all of your 3 points, Andrew. Thx!
    – Csabi
    Dec 20 '12 at 15:13
  1. I'm a bit concerned about the refresh button appearing on a pop-up with no cancel/(x) button; What if the user entered input in the current page? - Would it be lost?

  2. Optional refresh notices like on the top of the main page this site is nice - doesn't force the users to refresh, but alerts them to the need to refresh. Users can always use the built in browser's refresh button/shortcuts or click on the notice.

  • Good points, Danny! +1
    – Andrew
    Dec 20 '12 at 14:53
  • Danny, this is not a dialog, it's a simple page, maybe I didn't elaborate it properly. The page contains only that what's on the screenshot.
    – Csabi
    Dec 20 '12 at 15:12
  • @Csabi There is no screenshot in the question other than that of the pop up. Dec 21 '12 at 2:09

I have always been told never to assume your user can do something and make the application as simple and easy to use for the user. I definitely think in the case of the image above when a session times out a refresh button is offered. If there is a high possibility the user may need to refresh the page i would offer the button.

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