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We are developing a complex platform with heavy functionality, and I am having a dilemma, concerning whether or not to add a button for the same functionality one-step earlier in the User Flow.

As seen on the wireframe image on the link below, I have shared an example of 2 screens, a Multiple Item View and the Inner View of the item. When the User clicks on an item in the Multiple Item View Screen, he gets transferred to the corresponding Inner View, where he can get access to multiple actions, through Buttons. (e.g. Download, Preview etc.)

Now the question is, should I provide a "shortcut" for the same functionality, 1 step/layer earlier in the process (case 2)? This could be done by including a smaller version of the same button, in the Multiple Item View. That way, the User can get to access the same functionality with one less click.

I am of the belief that providing strict structures (Only 1 path for a specific actions) generally works better, especially for complex platforms, and that giving the user multiple flows/action paths results in confusion most of the time. However, some developers in the team disagree, and insist on me putting some button(s) one step earlier, in order for the user to avoid the extra click(s).

What is your opinion on that matter? Is there a practise that works better most of the time?

enter image description here

  • I am in doubt that second option has a good usability, because having a botton inside a button isn't a pattern an user would anticipate. I tried it myself once and had issues solving it (3 iterations actually) – FrankL Mar 24 '13 at 19:07
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It depends on the usage.

If you design for returning users which will perform these actions often then option 2 could be the way to go. It provides a shortcut which could improve productivity for advanced users.

If a user will perform this action once or seldom, then the shortcut isn't necessary and removing it will clean up the interface.

  • Thank you for answering. I agree with the argument of improved productivity for advanced users, that's why the team's developers are always the ones who vote for "shortcuts" and multiple flows for the same actions. I really think that the question comes down to: whether should one design "for the advanced users" (where shortcuts obviously work) or take a more spherical approach and keep things strict, in order to educate the user in using the platform in a specific way (easier for beginners to adapt to). – protogeridis Mar 20 '13 at 13:33
  • You should determine how often users would typically perform these actions (ie. will they ever become advanced users) and determine if the increased learning curve is worth accomodating for advanced usage. – TomDoes Mar 20 '13 at 13:50
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An additional consideration is the response time: if the response time is milliseconds (i.e., the second page appears almost instantly), then the second click is "more acceptable". However, if the second page takes 10 seconds to fully appear (and the sub-options are used a lot), then you might consider moving them to the main page.

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If a single click is what stands in the way of the action button, the first image will be fine in most situations.

I would say that the second design is good in situations where there are several levels between the current screen and the action button the user is looking for or the action button is hard to find on the subsequent screen.

  • Indeed, the difference is only a single click, and I agree that in cases where there are more than 2 or three layers/levels of depth, shortcuts could actually provide added productivity. Thank you for your answer. – protogeridis Mar 20 '13 at 13:21
  • @protogeridis : You are very welcome! – The Sheek Geek Mar 20 '13 at 13:29
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Good points raised so far. i would like to add that increasing the number of steps doesn't matter a lot, as long as the users don't have to think about how to proceed to the next step.

This is similar to when you install an application in a PC and go on clicking on the 'next' button. You don't mind additional clicks as long as every click is mindless.

While if an action can be done with a single click, but at the cost of some users stumbling upon it- such solution is not recommended.

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