I have created a webapp which the user can see many posts on the main page.

Once clicked, the window redirects to the post page.

On my navbar, I have my website logo, which when clicked redirects to the main page.

Some of my users complain that there is no back button to return to where they come from.

I think there are 2 choices - the website logo, and the browser back button.

They want a third (pointless for me at least) option which is a link called 'back' which will point them back to the main page.

Is a back button necessary?

  • You might consider something like breadcrumbs, if you want the best of both worlds. That would allow users to understand where they were within your site hierarchy.
    – user8889
    Mar 21, 2013 at 20:42
  • 1
    Necessary is a strong word, a better question might be "should I". --- Keep in mind that (a) complaints are like cockroaches: for everyone you see there are 100 behind the shelf. (b) users, when encouraged, will mentioned something - consider it as "everything more important to them is actually good."
    – peterchen
    Mar 28, 2013 at 8:19

4 Answers 4


If your users are telling you that they don't know how to get back, then that's a pretty clear indication that yes, you need a back button in your app. It might be worth doing some quick usability studies to see if it is platform-specific (like JohnGB's answer indicates), but this sounds like a case where you should listen to your users.

Also, in every usability study I've run, it's clear that the "click the logo to go home" feature is only used by very savvy computer users. Of course, your audience may be power users, but don't assume that everybody knows about that convention.

Then you're only left with the browser back button, and for that I'd refer you to this classic: Do users understand the browser back button?


That depends on the platform that you are designing for, and what HIG you are following. A Web-app is often used on a mobile device (see Sencha Touch).

If it's Android, there is a system back button, so you don't need one.

If it's iOS, you probably need one, even if it's just to maintain consistency with the iOS look and feel.

If it's on a pc, then you could get away with using the backspace button as back, but then it wouldn't work if someone were using the same app on their iPad.

If you want the app to work on many devices, you need to include a back button to cater for those that will not have one.

  • Let's just add that there are two types of buttons on Android - one is the "Back" button (physical in older devices and system versions, onscreen in Android 4.x) and "Up" which can be mistaken as "Back". More here: developer.android.com/design/patterns/navigation.html Mar 21, 2013 at 13:28
  • note this is a webapp. not a smartphone app. so platform is windows/unix/mac Mar 21, 2013 at 13:29
  • @NickGinanto I edited my answer to cover other platforms.
    – JohnGB
    Mar 21, 2013 at 13:35
  • @DominikOslizlo back and up are very often the same thing in simpler apps, which I take it this one will be.
    – JohnGB
    Mar 21, 2013 at 13:36
  • @JohnGB - The browser back button is present on the browser for iOS; however, if he is trying to mimic the look and feel of a native app, then I agree, a back button mimicking the button to push something off a navigation controller would be desirable - this concept now also appears in Android 4+ per the design guides.
    – Josh Bruce
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:36

It's a webapp and inexperienced user may need the extra hand to know how to get back to where they started. Experienced users find themselves trapped in the browser back button, since it can't be trusted. In some occations (especially financial transactions) the back button may log you out of the system completely, and you need to sign in again - not what you want to do on a small device.

I guess you don't have a banking system - but the cognitive learnt behaviour from other webapps make users insecure and doubtful. That's bad. Make them trust your app by adding a back-button.


Some of my users complain that there is no back button to return to where they come from.

Since you got this claim - there's no reason why you shouldn't impelement a back button. Make your users feel safe using your web app is all that matters.


Have you heard of breadcrumbs ? I think breadcrumbs will neatly solve your users problems, even for multilevel pages.
Also keep in mind that in the future there is every possibility your users will ask for a forward button.
Or, since its a webapp you could redesign the layout with back and forward as side nav buttons and the content is displayed between the buttons.

  • 2
    Breadcrumbs make sense when there is a trail to follow, according to his description, he only has 2 points: Home and post. Hence not a strong need for breadcrumbs, unless he has groups for the post in which case the breadcrumb is something like Home>Group of post>Post
    – rk.
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:16
  • Breadcrumbs are also typically used to display a hierarchy - not a browser history. Home -> blog -> post - it doesn't matter if the user got to the post from the home page.
    – Josh Bruce
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:58
  • Nevertheless, a valid solution Mar 21, 2013 at 17:07

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